Fordham Dance Marathon Spreads Awareness for Cancer


Fordham Dance Marathon (FDM) is responsible for planting 874 ribbons, each there to represent a child who has been diagnosed with cancer since the beginning of the spring semester. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Every day, roughly 1,600 people die from cancer. Cancer continues to be the second-leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society. February is National Cancer Prevention month, and many organizations across the country are taking part in raising awareness. 

Many clubs and organizations at Fordham University have come together in an effort to get people thinking about how badly this disease affects individuals all across the U.S. 

Since Feb. 4, Edward’s Parade has had gold ribbons on dowels across the field. Fordham Dance Marathon (FDM) is responsible for planting 874 ribbons, each there to represent a child who has been diagnosed with cancer since the beginning of the spring semester. 

“Our two biggest pillars that we try to fulfill through FDM is both awareness and fundraising,” said Ella McGarvey, FCRH ’23, executive director of  FDM. 

FDM had previously planted ribbons on Edward’s Parade in 2019, in front of McGinley before the construction of the McShane Campus Center began. The club decided to revamp this older idea and place the gold ribbons in a more visible place. 

“It’s been super successful and a part of a lot of peoples’ pictures that they take on campus,” McGarvey said. 

McGarvey also shared that there was once a sign that read, “every one of these ribbons honors a kid that’s been diagnosed with cancer since the beginning of the semester.” But, the week of Feb. 4 was windy and blew the signage away. 

“46 kids are diagnosed every single day; That’s 46 kids that are impacted and 49 will pass away every single week. I think that statistic is very harrowing and terrifying,” McGarvey said. The sign, ribbons and statistics that FDM has shared with the community aim to  increase awareness of both cancer and the club itself. 

Many students pass through Edward’s Parade at some point during their day at Fordham. The ribbons have caught the attention of a few students who were shocked to learn of these statistics, and the idea that FDM is responsible for raising awareness to causes such as childhood cancer.

“We know cancer is a major health issue, but seeing all of the ribbons outside really puts into perspective how many people it’s affecting,” said Gabriela Shpijati, FCRH ’24, as she passed by Edward’s Parade on her way to class. 

“A lot less people are reaching us thinking we are a dance group this year which is super exciting because a lot of people always think that of us,” said McGarvey. Members of the Fordham community were able to learn more about FDM and the ways it helps causes such as cancer awareness. This led to the club recently breaking $100,000 in fundraising, which is the earliest they have ever reached this feat. 

“We are on track to raise the most money FDM has raised in a calendar year, which is so cool,” said McGarvey. “A lot of people know about FDM, but a lot don’t know about the capacity of change we are able to make.”

“I always knew of Fordham Dance Marathon, but learning about how much they do to fight pediatric cancer is something new to me,” said Alba Kucuku, FCRH ’24, when asked about her thoughts on FDM. 

In addition to the ribbons along Edward’s Parade, FDM also had their 15th annual auction, where they raised over $24,000 in one night. 

“It was the highest amount we’ve ever raised before. It was a very well-attended event. It was about 500 people that we were able to reach in the community which was really awesome,” said McGarvey. 

FDM partnered with many local and national organizations to put on this event. McGarvey said that they are a non-profit organization, so they are attentive on how they spend their money. 

FDM works with the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which helps children with cancer on both a national and local level. 

“We try to make every penny count, so we reach out to local companies starting last May. Our auction director Amelia was in charge, and she was able to get over 100 raffle prizes including different sponsorships,” said McGarvey. 

“Even though pediatric cancer is the number one disease killer of kids, only 7% of national funding goes to pediatric cancer research,” said McGarvey. FDM is part of a larger effort to lobby for more funding, and has received grants to help do so.

FDM’s “Day of” is April 22, which is the club’s actual dance marathon. Until then, there are many ways students can be a part of raising awareness of pediatric cancer.