‘Novans dance to raise fund for pediatric cancer

Haley Millstein

On Saturday, March 21, 1,000 Villanova students will dance in honor of Andrew McDonough, a 14-year-old leukemia victim from Wilmington, Delaware. At 10 a.m., the Jake Nevin Field House doors will open to the community for the second annual NOVAdance.

The 10 hour dance marathon aims to provide financial support to families battling pediatric cancer through the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. The nationwide charity is named after Andrew McDonough, a student athlete who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) a short 48 hours after leading his soccer team to the state title. 

Throughout Andrew’s 167 day fight, he remained extremely positive and inspired all of those around him. Due to his optimistic outlook and B+ blood type, the foundation quickly found its name.

On Andrew’s hospital room door, his sister hung a poster reading “Do Not Enter Unless You are Being Positive.” The foundation’s “Be Positive” motto is followed by three “Do Good” goals: 1. Do Good by providing financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer through The B+ Family Assistance Program; 2. Do Good by funding childhood cancer research in search of cures and advancements in chemotherapy and 3. Do Good by spreading the B+ message and helping others “Live Like Andrew”. 

NOVAdance Executive Director Mike Dolio explained that to live like Andrew means to “show affection, be comfortable with yourself and the world around you, and give to others as much as you can.” 

Last spring, the Villanova student body raised over $66,000 that was allocated to afflicted families and advanced research. The 2015 planning committee, consisting of 35 passionate members, spent a year preparing for Saturday’s event and has high expectations for its results. 

The committee hopes to raise $85,000, and the target is seemingly tangible. NOVAdance Public Relations Director, Freddy Essis, reveals “we are very close to reaching our goal.” He adds, “I think we might even beat it.”  

The event provides the opportunity for the community to meet six children feuding with pediatric cancer who are given the titles of “B+ Heroes.” 

Each hero is paired with a participating organization, and they foster a relationship with one another months prior to the event’s occurrence. “These children are put on a level that nobody can understand,” Essis remarks. “They deserve to be put on a pedestal and called heroes.”

Essis and Dolio, both with personal family experience of cancer hardships, have a special place in their hearts for this cause. At the age of seven, Dolio lost his father to colon cancer and thinks about what it would be like if the roles had been reversed. No parent should have to watch their child die, and that is Dolio’s motivation for ending pediatric cancer. He believes, “pediatric cancer is where we can have the greatest effect,” realizing that, “we can give an entire life to a kid that wouldn’t have it otherwise.”

Sophomore student participant Amelia DeVita speaks to how the event touched her. She confesses, “Last year, I loved raising the money, but once I got to the event and saw what the money went to, I was speechless.” She continues, “It’s unbelievable how much change this can make, and I’m really excited to see how much it has grown this year, and in the years to come.”

The dance marathon will be filled with entertainment and games, such as Zumba, giveaways, a capella performances, lip syncing contests, and an assortment of food from your favorite Main Line restaurants. From 3 to 6 p.m., Red Bull will host a paper airplane making contests where the winner qualifies for an expense free trip to Red Bull headquarters in Austria.  

The NOVAdance committee wants the event to be just as profound as Special Olympics here at Villanova in the near future. The only thing it asks of the student body is participation. Essis declares, “This really is our opportunity to ignite change.” So get to the Pavilion and watch Villanovans help cease childhood cancer, one dance move at a time.