Students dance to the fundraising beat

One Registered Student Organization partied for a cause Saturday.

The first all-night Saluki Thon took place Saturday at the university’s Recreation Center. The six-hour music and dance marathon went from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. and featured live bands, Disc Jockies and other entertainment.

Volunteers stand in the front row to watch Kendall and Andrew, a Carbondale band, perform Saturday during the first Salukithon at the Recreation Center. The new Registered Student Organization hosted the all-night dance marathon from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. to raise money for the African International Foundation for Educational Excellence, which builds schools in Kenya, president Ellen Esling said. “Many universities host dance marathons to raise money for charities,” she said. “This is just the start of SIU’s version of giving back.” Tiffany BlancheTTe | THE WEEKENDER

Volunteers stand in the front row to watch Kendall and Andrew, a Carbondale band, perform Saturday during the first Salukithon at the Recreation Center. The new Registered Student Organization hosted the all-night dance marathon from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. to raise money for the African International Foundation for Educational Excellence, which builds schools in Kenya, president Ellen Esling said. “Many universities host dance marathons to raise money for charities,” she said. “This is just the start of SIU’s version of giving back.”
Tiffany BlancheTTe | THE WEEKENDER

Ellen Esling, the RSO’s president and junior from Carbondale studying geography and environmental resources, said marathon participants had to stay on their feet for six hours, and donators made pledges toward the six-hour goal. Donations go to Associate Vice Chancellor Peter Gitau’s African International Foundation for Educational Excellence, which helps build and maintain Kenyan schools, she said.

“It’s very impacting,” Gitau said. “Word spreads very quickly when you are doing something good.” Gitau said the number of

communities that want his foundation’s help have increased, and each dollar will go toward Kenyan students’ secondary education scholarships. Esling said the education aspect appealed to her and other RSO members, so they chose it as the organization’s cause.

“We didn’t specifically have it in mind at first, but it fit exactly the direction we wanted to go in,” she said. “I am a very big advocate for

education.” One of Esling’s friends studied

abroad in Kenya, she said, and she mentioned the idea to support the foundation.

“I wasn’t expecting of making millions of dollars, but I was definitely high in a cloud about it,” Esling said. “We have to start somewhere and that was one of the difficulties with it.”

“It is a good cause,” Esling said. “Everything just fell into place.” RSO treasurer Kensli

Esling said she based the idea off of a similar event at Penn State, where her friend attends. However, she had to adjust her expectations for the event’s size and scope.

Brown, a junior from Chicago studying hospitality and tourism administration, said the event had no sponsors and all entertainment and organization was volunteer-based.

Primo’s Pizza provided free food, and musicians DJ Keeder, Kendall and Andrew, After Barbled, A3ro, and the RSO Musicians United donated their service.

Beyond the live entertainment and free pizza, students had access to Recreation Center equipment, which the RSO paid $600 to use, as well as a face painting station, Brown said. However, she said many people did not come because they did not know about the new dance-a-thon.

“It has been very fun, but I wish more people would have come out,” Brown said. “It will happen with the first event.”

Brown said she joined the RSO because it applied to her major, and she liked the RSO’s goals.

“It is a great cause and I had a blast,” Brown said.

Matthew Wilson-Leigh, a student from Libertyville studying social work, said the event’s turnout surprised him, especially since it was the weekend before Mardi Gras. He said he was impressed with the event’s music lineup.

Curtis Butts, a junior from Urbana studying radio-television, said he learned of Gitau’s foundation through Saluki Thon. He said he enjoyed the event and likes the RSO’s service aspect.

“I heard about it from other schools, and I thought it would be interesting,” Butts said.

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