The University of Delaware’s annual UDance event took place on April 24th, 2022. The day-long dance marathon benefits the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which honors the life of Andrew McDonough, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 14 after a battle with leukemia. This year’s UDance was the first held in person since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and students, including members of the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, went “back to the Bob” to continue fundraising and celebrate the $1,814,429.68 raised to support B+ families.
While UDance 2022 lasted 12 hours, the work that students do to support the B+ Foundation is a year-round effort. The B+ Foundation is the largest provider for families of children facing childhood cancer, and recognizes children battling cancer as B+ heros, who are often paired with student groups on college campuses. These partnerships allow students to develop close relationships with B+ Heros and their families, and members at the Alpha Eta Chapter have done just that.
When Marin Herrick and Gabriella Viacara, UDance co-representatives, joined Phi Sigma Pi, the Alpha Eta Chapter’s assigned B+ Hero had recently aged out of the program. Both Members have experienced the hardships of cancer with family members and were inspired and driven to support UDance and make a difference in the lives of the B+ Heros and their families. The two were eager for the chapter to be paired with a new Hero, and worked with UDance to make this goal a reality. Over the 2021-2022 Winter Break, after patiently waiting and keeping in contact with UDance leaders, the chapter was informed that they were paired with Benny, a five-year-old boy, and his family, the Pins.
Herrick and Viacara were nervous before their initial meeting with Benny, but say that all nervousness went away once they met Benny, his sister Amelia, and their parents, Kelly and Dan. The pair learned all about Benny’s immense love for cars, science, and all things superheroes, while Amelia showed them her dance moves and shared her passion for horses.
“We knew right from the jump that Benny and his family were incredible, and we could not wait to share their light and joy with the rest of the chapter. They become more comfortable with us every time we get together; they’re very loving kids and it’s really special to see their love for us blossom, ” Viacara said.
The chapter’s first event with their B+ hero was a show and tell where Benny and his family, as well as Alpha Eta Members, brought significant items to share with the group. The meeting was held over Zoom to provide a safe environment as Benny finished up his treatment at the beginning of February 2022. The entire chapter finally got to meet their hero, Benny, and learn more about him.
After the first meet and greet, the chapter was able to participate in a very special day for the Pin family. Members joined Benny’s friends and family to “Beep for Benny”, driving by the Pin’s home honking in celebration, blowing bubbles, waving posters out of their cars, and hanging out on the front lawn to celebrate Benny’s last day of chemotherapy. The chapter also participated in the B+ Fashion show, where Benny's sister Amelia took the runway while Benny and Phi Sigma Pi Members cheered her from the crowd. For Benny and Amelia’s birthdays, the chapter hosted a birthday party where they ate cake, watched the movie Cars, played on the playground near campus and opened lots of presents.
The relationship between Alpha Eta members and the Pin family continues to grow as Members share pivotal moments with the family and watch Benny and Amelia grow, creating a special bond between Members and the family. The chapter already has plans for a book club in the Fall, where Members will read a book that Benny and Amelia are reading, and they will all meet together to discuss the story.
To follow along on Alpha Eta’s adventures with Benny and the Pins, follow their chapter Instagram, phisigmapi_ud.