NOVAdance 2023: One For The Kids and The Books

Lauren Armstrong, Staff Writer

March 18th, 2023 has been marked off as being the day of NOVAdance on Villanova students’ calendars since August. It was set as the day to come together in the Jake Nevin field house to stand, dance, sing and fundraise from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., in honor and recognition of Villanova’s B+ Heroes. Students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, and involved as members of the Moral Committee, Sidekicks, Engagement Coordinators, Committee, Team Leaders, Hero Liaisons and General Participants, all came together to celebrate the work and fundraising that was done for NOVAdance this school year. The energy was high, as were the amount of energy drinks consumed. 

Hour after hour, themes ranged from Broadway to LipSync to Disnelodian, and the most impactful hour: Hero Hour. This year, Hero Hour was especially special, as Villanova’s very own Brandon Gonzalez was recognized as the newest Forever Hero. His mother, Maria Gonzalez, shared a beautiful testimony, and his brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon stood in solidarity as they fundraised in honor of Brandon. Together, students and heroes stood, to remember those who lost their battle and to celebrate those still fighting. There was not a dry eye in the room when Joe McDonough took the stage and shared his experience.

“Being able to cry and then dance in the same [room] 30 minutes [later was] unlike any experience I have ever had, and the power of the program is very clear,” sophomore Engagement Coordinator Colin Nemeth said. “Cancer has impacted so many more people than you can imagine, and I NOVAdance to help families like mine. My cousin Daphne passed from a severe brain cancer called DIPG. Its research is underfunded, and the cancer is very quick and dangerous.” 

Nemeth is one of many who NOVAdance for their own families. The personal connections are what help to drive motivations to fight for a cure and fundraise for families. 

This year’s Co-Executive Directors were seniors Ally Dorsey and Shannon Kauber. Both Dorsey and Kauber have put in months upon months of work into this day. 

“I have learned to enjoy the little things,” Dorsey said. “From Tuesday night meetings to many trips to the storage unit, each and every little thing that we did for NOVAdance made my Villanova experience so much better. I am forever grateful for the NOVAdance family and cannot begin to thank each and every student who helped us succeed this year.” This year was the 10th anniversary of NOVAdance. Students were eager to see how much money was raised for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, and to see a difference in the final fundraising amount in comparison to past years’.

Junior Rosa Marfia has been a part of NOVAdance for her past three years at Villanova. Beginning as a Sidekick her freshman year, becoming a Hero Liaison last year, and being on the committee as one of three Engagement Coordinator Chairs this year, NOVAdance holds a very special place in Marfia’s heart. 

“In my time with NOVAdance, I have learned numerous things,” Mafia said. “Being a Sidekick helped show me a passion I had that I never knew existed. It taught me to be outgoing, to be fearless. Being on the committee has taught me even more, it has taught me how to work with a team, and how to be a leader. It has taught me that we are capable of making a difference.”  

While students were dancing and singing in the main room, the Reflection Room was down the hall and gave participants an opportunity to read and reflect. The room was dark and was filled with letters, pictures and videos from the families of the B+ Heroes.

“I snuck into the reflection room during the last of the Lip Sync Battles and the room was completely empty,” Mafia said. “It was just me. I went throughout the room, looking at pictures of heroes and reading the letters so many families have written to the B+ foundation, and I just started crying. I took it all in and it all hit me. All the hard work, late nights and time and effort we have put into NOVAdance this year, all went into this. To the families and children I was reading and looking at. It puts life into a whole new perspective.” 

This year’s top fundraiser teams were Sidekicks, Kappa Delta, Chi Omega, Engagement Coordinator Team and Morale Committee. The top individual fundraisers were Grant LeMay who fundraised $10,466, Audrey Trussell with $9,165, BJ Wenzel with $7,516, Ally Dorsey with $7,405 and Caroline Jakubik with $6,005. 

Together, with all the hard work, dedication and drive to help these kids and families, NOVAdance 2023 raised $505,311.35. Villanova will always be dedicated to helping to fundraise and be there for its heroes: Rebekha, Correll, Jack, James, Harry, Frankie, Blair, Jibby, Tony, Lilly, Sebastian, Danny, Ellie, Christos and Andrew. Everything done is for the kids, and let the countdown to NOVAdance 2024 begin.