One Of 708: Kristen Garrone’s Journey To Becoming An Independent Dancer
Standing on the Bryce Jordan Center floor sporting a vibrant Minions cape, American flag bandana, and brand new fluorescent sneakers, senior Kristen Garrone didn’t expect to be dancing in THON 2016, especially as an independent dancer.
The majority of the 708 dancers participating in THON this weekend are representing an organization. However, there are dancers who are on the floor without an affiliation, referred to as independent dancers. Two of those individuals are Garrone and her partner Lauren Scerencsits.
Garrone, a broadcast journalism and economics double major, made the decision to fundraise to dance in THON independently. Students who want to dance independently have to raise at least $2,500 by themselves to be eligible for the lottery. Every additional $600 raised gives the independent-hopefuls extra “chances” of be selected.
Despite the obstacles, Garrone made the decision to get herself on the floor for THON’s big weekend. She felt that the challenges of raising money as an independent was worth it if she had a chance to dance in her final THON as a student. Garrone could’ve danced with her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, but she felt like others in the organization deserved it more.
“I really thought that maybe I would get the nomination, but there were a lot of girls who deserved it more than I did,” Garrone said. “Me and my friend Lauren, who’s my partner, were like, ‘We need to put something together if we really want to do this.’ [Dancing] is something I’ve wanted to do since freshman year.”
The challenges of dancing independently were even greater this year because of the two cancelled canning weekends. Garrone and Scerencsits had to work harder than they originally calculated just to get the chance to get onto the BJC floor.
“It’s a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears,” Garrone said. “I can’t even stress how hard it was. We didn’t get to go canning and we didn’t do any canvassing, so a lot of ours was through third party fundraisers and a lot of THONvelopes.”
With the diminished opportunities to fundraise, Garrone had to trust she would receive some large donations. She said that a $1000 she received from one donor was the kick-start her and her partner needed to make their dream a reality.
While Garrone stands on the BJC floor this weekend relieved and satisfied, the months leading up to THON were easily the most stressful she’s ever experienced.
“We really didn’t get a lot of our money until the last month, so it was very stressful,” Garrone admitted. “It really came down to the wire and we actually went to the in-person registration desk $200 short of the next ticket. So we called a bunch of people saying ‘can you donate anything right now?’ We raised like $250 in two minutes, it was incredible.”
For Garrone and her partner, the stress was worth it, she noted while standing on the floor of THON 2016 as an independent dancer.
“It’s been incredible,” Garrone said. “Getting named to be a dancer wasn’t even real when it happened. When I got the email that I’d been chosen I just couldn’t even believe it. Walking through the human tunnel today I was just freaking out. It’s just been such a dream.”
Garrone couldn’t have done this without her friend and THON partner Lauren Scerencsits.
“Lauren is my best friend and none of this would’ve been possible without her,” Garrone said. “All the 3 a.m. conversations freaking out that we can’t raise enough money, the rapid fire texts back and forth wondering ‘can we do this?’ She’s been everything and I couldn’t have done it without her.
The journey for Garrone to get to dance in THON 2016 may have been a challenging one, but she wouldn’t change it for the world. Garrone has a word of advice for anyone looking to dance independently following her experiences.
“Start early, and never think that the amount you have is enough,” Garrone said. “We raised $3800 and made it, but I know someone who raised $6000 and didn’t get picked. It’s a lottery, so you just need to put your best foot forward, start early, and fundraise often.”
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