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Students raise money for children's cancer organization at PirateThon

By Tiffany Do
On February 26, 2013

Students raised more than $26,000 at Seton Hall's first annual 18-hour dance marathon, PirateThon on Saturday, Feb. 23.

More than 350 people danced, or at least stood, for 18 hours in the Main Lounge in order to raise awareness and money to the Valerie Fund, a local, not-for-profit organization that supports children with blood disorders and cancer.

In the weeks prior to PirateThon, students raised over $22,000, according to the co-founder and chair of dance marathon, Mona Safar. She also said that the goal of the fundraiser was to raise $15,000, but that was reached by Feb. 8, according to the event's Facebook page.

Before the actual dancing began, Jarrett, 7, and his mother Elaina Loalbo spoke to the students. According to Loalbo, Jarrett was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of three. She also said that when Jarrett woke up from a coma, she created a metaphor that holds great meaning to the PirateThon.

"When he woke up from his coma, he didn't understand what exactly was going on so we made up a fairytale saying that his IV pole was his sword, his bed was his ship and we were all his shipmates helping to fight the bad guys which were actually the bad cells in his body," Loalbo said. "We've used this throughout his treatment and the team that we have from the Valerie Fund are also the pirates, so we love an event like this especially because it's the PirateThon and that's what we are."

Loalbo said that she and Jarrett moved back to New Jersey from Philadelphia in order to be with the Valerie Fund because they found great help and support through them.

Jarrett is currently in the second grade at Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway, NJ. His two favorite subjects are art and gym and likes to play basketball in his free time. He is also an ambassador for the Valerie Fund and has been in remission for two years, according to Loalbo.

A few students said that the cause was the main reason for coming out to PirateThon. Sophomore nursing major Monica Alvarado said she knew about the Valerie Fund previously and was excited that Seton Hall was supporting them.

"When I first heard about PirateThon, I fell in love with the idea," Alvarado said. "It'll get more people involved with the philanthropy aspects and really pump it up and really make a difference to our campus. I also love the cause; the Valerie Fund is wonderful."

Safar, a senior business major, said that the event took 10 months to organize and had her travelling to other universities for research.

"We started out knowing absolutely nothing, then we went out and did research and we met people who did dance marathons at their schools, for example Penn State and Rutgers," Safar said. "I actually had the opportunity to go to the Rutgers dance marathon and talked to their board and they helped us out tremendously. We learned so much through them, and then it just spiraled and we came up with our own ideas."

Ed and Sue Goldstein founded the Valerie Fund in 1976 and named it after their 9-year-old daughter who passed away from cancer. With seven centers in New Jersey and one in New York, the organization is run by volunteers and turns no one away, according to Ed Goldstein.

"Our overall goal is to go out of business (because) we found a cure," Goldstein said.

Tiffany Do can be reached at tiffany.do@student.shu.edu.


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