The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 6, 2013

Moving tribute: For dance marathon participants, fighting cancer is personal

Patrick Buchnowski

JOHNSTOWN — They were dancing for a cause at the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township on Saturday.

Students there hosted the first dance marathon, “B You. B Strong. B plus,” at the campus Wellness Center.

The marathon was to raise money for pediatric cancer through the support of the Andrew McDonough B Plus Foundation, which honors the memory of a

14-year-old athlete and A student who lost his fight with leukemia and sepsis.

For Shawn Hemphill, director of Campus and Civic engagement, organizing the marathon was something personal.

“I wanted to do something for the campus to sort of unite everybody,” said Hemphill, a New York City native.

“The cause was dear to me since I lost my father to cancer,” he said. “Any way I can give back in the fight for a cancer cure, I champion for.”

Dancers hoped to raise $5,000.

At least seven student organizations participated.

Others also had an emotional stake in the event.

“My grandfather passed away three years ago from cancer,” said Emily Matschner, 21, a junior from Pittsburgh. “So it touched home.”

Nineteen-year-old Dayna Rumski, a member of the university’s dance ensemble, was searching for some excitement on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

“I’m a dancer, and I thought this would be the most fun for me,” the sophomore from Pittsburgh said.

Hemphill said the students “have fun, eat and raise money for a great cause.”

The B Plus Foundation is about kids helping kids fight cancer by providing financial and emotional support for families with children with cancer.

Students danced from noon to midnight.

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