Dance Marathon as we know it today started at Penn State University in 1972 as a fundraiser for the Interfraternity Council.  The event raised $2,000 in it’s first year. In 1993, students at Indiana University scheduled a dance marathon to honor their friend Ryan White.  Ryan was a grade school friend who would’ve attended school with them who had passed away as a result of HIV/AIDS. In his honor, they held their event and raised $10,000 in their first year.   After their inaugural event, Children’s Miracle Network reached out and asked to start the program nationally.  In 1994 and 1995, four other schools joined Indiana in holding dance marathons, Bowling Green State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Floirda, and Florida State University became the founding five marathons in the Children’s Miracle Network program.

Today Dance Marathon is an international program featured at over 250 colleges and high schools across the country, in 8 cities for post collegiate participants, and for the first time in Canada.  The program has continued enormous annual growth and change at every campus which it has impacted.  In the SEC. 11 of the 14 schools participate in the program at levels over $3 million dollars. 

OttoTHON was founded by Jillian Lynch. Lynch brought the first event to Syracuse University in 2015. Since then, we have grown to raise well over a quarter million dollars for Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital making our mark within this national Dance Marathon movement!

Watch CMN's video about the history of dance marathon here.


Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is a member of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, an alliance of 170 hospitals with two simple goals:

Help as many children as possible by raising funds for children's hospital services
Keep funds in the community in which they were raised to help local children That means your gift to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals will help make miracles happen for children living in Upstate New York who courageously face health challenges greater than most of us can imagine.


Pay for expenses not covered by insurance

Medicines, therapy, hearing aids, wheelchairs, travel to stay with hospitalized children, formula and diapers

Provide support services

Scholarships to special summer camps for kids and help for parents grieving the loss of a child.

Help the hospital stay up-to-date

Purchasing important equipment like emergency pediatric resuscitation carts, infant car seats for safety, specialized hearing equipment, or playroom toys