GahannaThon will move from the dance floor to the basketball court Jan. 20 to help raise money for children with cancer.

Sreekar Miriyala, student council president at Gahanna Lincoln High School, said students felt something was lacking at the end of past GahannaThon events.

"We wanted more involvement," he said. "People work so hard throughout the year, donating time at smaller events. We wanted to engage more people in the celebration."

This year, the campaign will end with a basketball game instead of a dance marathon, with students playing against teachers.

"In general, the theme is 'Beat Cancer,' " Miriyala said. "That's what the event is about."

Sara McCloud, fundraising officer for student council, said the school already has raised about $12,000 toward its $25,000 goal.

She said she's excited about the game because she think it will attract more community members.

To make a donation, McCloud said, contributors should call the high school at 614-478-5500 and ask for student council adviser Jennifer Newman.

Admission to the basketball game will be $7, with all tickets proceeds going to GahannaThon's cause.

There is no cost to participate in the game.

"What Ohio State University does is (an annual) dance marathon (BuckeyeThon)," Miriyala said. "We're focusing on a student-teacher game, trying to connect with other kids around the school."

Money raised at GahannaThon will be presented to BuckeyeThon.

Last year, Gahanna Lincoln students presented a check for $32,130 at BuckeyeThon for children at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

BuckeyeThon, Ohio State's largest student-run philanthropy, raises money for the hematology, oncology and bone-marrow transplant floors of Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Efforts have raised $6.5 million to date; the main focus is funding breakthrough cancer research and psychosocial services at the hospital.

The 2018 BuckeyeThon is scheduled Feb. 9 at the Ohio Union.

Miriyala said high school organizers recently met with Gahanna Middle School South's student council to see how the school wants to participate in GahannaThon.

"They seem very interested in the event," he said. "We'll work with them. We'll reach out and work with other student councils."

Miriyala encourages everyone to come and support GahannaThon and see an event to help children facing cancer.

"We're asking teachers in general to participate," he said.

"Anyone who wants to be on the basketball team -- we're asking for applications and whether they play a winter sport. We'll do a random drawing to see who can play."

Sean Branick, an Advanced Placement history-economics teacher at Gahanna Lincoln, is signed up on the teachers' roster.

"He's a teacher a lot of students appreciate," Miriyala said. "His teaching style is engaging. A lot of students are excited about him playing."

The game will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 20.

Miriyala said the halftime show might be longer than usual to encompass the cause, allow family members of pediatric patients to speak and feature the pep band.

He said vendors are being lined up for food, and some additional activities will be available.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla