This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of joining the legion of dancers and volunteers of Dance Marathon in their crusade to support and raise awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
For those that don’t know, Dance Marathon is an event that is held at over 150 colleges and high schools across the nation. Students spend the year prior to the event raising funds, spending time with featured families and raising awareness about Children’s Miracle Network. All this hard work then culminates in an annual event where participants dance for anywhere between 12 to 40 hours straight. Why would any sane person put himself or herself through this physical strain? As one of the Dance Marathon mottos states: We dance today for more tomorrows.
The event itself was a roller coaster of emotions and melatonin levels. It started with around 30 student leaders, named “Morale Captains,” performing an elaborately choreographed dance number set to a remix of songs such as “Animals,” “Start All Over,” “Wrecking Ball” and “It’s My Kind of Night.” At the top of every hour the participants are taught different sections of the dance and, by the end, we could have rivaled the best Beyoncé backup dancer.
The best part of the night was, by far, the families that were featured for the night. According to the Dance Marathon website, Children’s Miracle Network “is a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals.” The money that is raised is used to treat children with cancer, educate families on familial health issues and provide transportation costs to economically struggling families. At every hour before the Morale Dance, a different family came on stage and spoke to us about their personal struggles with raising a child with cancer, how Children’s Miracle Network has helped their family and how their child has progressed. Some of the stories were happy, and the sick children in question were even present to say a word of thanks. Some stories, unfortunately, didn’t have as happy of an ending and yet the families were still present to give thanks to all the college kids that donated their time and money to help such a great cause.
Once of the most touching aspects of Dance Marathon to me was fundraising for the event itself. In order to attend the main event each dancer had to raise a minimum of $100. To fundraise, my roommate and I signed up to huddle on a street corner collecting money from 10 PM until 1 AM. The generosity we received at those odd hours was astounding. Passersby whom we quickly judged were the first people to donate and show interest in our cause. Everyone from inebriated bar hoppers to young townspeople seemed so interested in the cause and wanted nothing more than to help.
Their generosity paid off for sure. In the end, our event alone raised $176,290.55. Multiply that by over 150 schools and you have a huge, well-appreciated donation and a lot of hope for kids who need it!