By Alyssa Louis
The fourth annual TCNJam brought students, cancer survivors and their families together to celebrate life, remember those who have succumbed to the disease and raise money for those battling childhood cancer.
For months, students have raised money for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity, which culminated in the dance-a-thon on Sunday, March 25 in the Brower Student Center.
A sea of Greek letters, the space was representative of the College’s fraternities and sororities and their dedication to raising awareness and bettering the lives of children suffering from cancer.
“(TCNJam) ties our whole community together,” said Sophia Grigolo, a junior criminology major and a sister of Alpha Xi Delta.
The dance-a-thon was rightfully kicked off with a spirited performance from the College’s dance team.
Aside from dancing, students could play cornhole and jump rope while money continued to be raised, getting TCNJam board members to their $100,000 goal.
Appearances from the College’s Synergy Dance Company and Waldo Black, an activist and performer who recently visited Penn State University for THON, a similar dance-themed charity event, kept the energy up for the long afternoon.
Joe McDonough, the founder of the B+ Foundation, spoke to the TCNJam participants to show his appreciation for the time and effort devoted devoted to the cause by all of its participants.
“You guys have been a big part of the success of the B+ Foundation,” he said.
McDonough founded his organization in honor of his 14-year-old son who lost his battle with cancer in 2007. The B+ Foundation provides funding for cancer research and alleviates the disease’s financial strain for many families.
“When a child gets cancer, the whole family gets cancer,” McDonough said.
The B+ Foundation also creates a community of support for the children and their families while they endure treatment.
“B+ Heroes” are childhood cancer survivors affiliated with the foundation. Heroes are often paired with Greek organizations at many colleges and universities across the country.
“It’s important to put faces to childhood cancer,” said McDonough as he introduced the parents of some B+ Heroes to share their heart-wrenching, yet hopeful stories.
The B+ Heroes had a blast hanging out with their paired fraternity or sorority. The brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity tossed around a football with their honorary member and B+ Hero, Will, who beamed with happiness. Will is currently in his fifth year of remission.
Darius Horne, a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a junior business management major and entertainment director of TCNJam, was moved by his experience with Will.
“Going to see Will has such an impact on me. We go to see him two or three times a year. He has so much energy,” Horne said.
Allyson Vilanova, a senior history and special education double major, sister of Sigma Sigma Sigma and the public relations chair for TCNJam, also sees the impact that the B+ Foundation and Heroes program have on these brave children.
“When you see the Heroes, they are happy and full of life and it hurts to see part of their childhood taken away because of childhood cancer,” Vilanova said.
A lively B+ Hero, Lilly, was given the stage and a microphone to perform “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys. Students moved closer and closer to the stage, dancing and singing with the inspirational young girl.
TCNJam raised $102,740.78 for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation this year, surpassing their goal.
The College has been increasingly successful in raising money and awareness for childhood cancer –– but there is still a long way to go.
“We’re not close to winning at all. We have a lot of work to do and we need you on our team,” McDonough said.