SALSTHON 2023 raised $243,791 for the Ronald McDonald House.

SALSTHON smashes fundraising goal: $243,791 to help children

Jarek Rutz Headlines, Education

SALSTHON 2023 raised $243,791 for the Ronald McDonald House.

SALSTHON 2023 raised $243,791 for the Ronald McDonald House.

Students from three Wilmington catholic schools spent eight hours on the dance floor last weekend to raise  $243,791 for children in need.

Salesianum School, Ursuline Academy and Padua Academy  shattered their $175,000 fundraising goal by nearly $70,000 in this year’s SALSTHON.

“At the beginning, I was worried about hitting our number,” said senior Jack Gormley, the student body president at Salesianum. “You see that final number and everyone was just taken back by how much three high schools can raise and how much it’s gonna mean for the kids.”

About 1,000 students across the three schools participate in SALSTHON each year, according to Alison Hildenbrand, a college counselor at Salesianum who helps organize the event.

Each participant needed to raise at least $250 for a ticket.

The event took place from 10 p.m. March 18 to 6 a.m. March 19. 

RELATED: SALSTHON sets $175K goal for Ronald McDonald House

The annual event started 11 years ago and is inspired by Penn State University’s THON, a popular all-night dance marathon for charity that many high schools in the country have adopted. 

The final fundraising tally for this year's SALSTHON.

The final fundraising tally for this year’s SALSTHON.

Over the years, SALSTHON has raised $1,640,000 for local non-profit organizations, including the Delaware Center for Homeless Veterans, Child Inc., B+, SL24: Sean’s House, St. Patrick’s Center, Limen House, Nemours Children’s Hospital and the Summer Collab.

All proceeds from this year’s overnight party will go to the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, which helps families whose seriously ill children are getting care at Nemours nearby.

Each family that checks into the house has a private guest room and access to laundry facilities, a fitness center, four playrooms, multiple kitchens, a movie theater and an outdoor playground.

They’re also served a hot meal every evening, which is partly what the money will go towards. 

Not only will the money fund a full year of meals for the foundation, it will also help the house replace a lot of the old furniture in its building.

Fundraising efforts gained traction at the beginning of March when the school held a dunk tank to raise money, in which three of the school’s priests were on the plank. 

The largest donation was $10,000, which was solicited from a local foundation by Nicky Vadas, a Salesianum student. Hildenbrand declined to identify it.

“Jack reached out to some area businesses and sought some fundraising support from them, which they hadn’t done in the past,” Hildenbrand said. “There was also more contact with alumni this year, so fundraising efforts were more thoughtful and deliberate with community engagement this year than in the past.”

Hildenbrand said the students will try to surpass this year’s total next year, but that might be hard with only three schools participating. 

“We’d like to again be more deliberate about community involvement next year and maybe involve the beneficiary earlier on in the year so that we can form relationships and get going on fundraising as soon as possible, “ she said.

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