By Nina Cusmano
If you live in Gainesville, you’ve likely heard of Dance Marathon (DM). If you haven’t, dance marathons are events put on all over the country to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals. DM at UF benefits Shands Children’s Hospital, its local CMN hospital. The event is 26.2 hours long, which equals the distance of a marathon. Dancers stand and stay awake the entire event. This year, DM at UF raised $$2,724,324.19, setting a new record. There are lots of reasons people start fundraising and participating in DM, but here are three of the reasons they fall in love with the annual event.
1. Line Dance
The line dance puts the dance in DM, and it is something that binds everyone at the event together. It occurs once every hour throughout the 26.2-hour event and is taught to dancers right after opening ceremonies. When the music plays, everyone knows what to do. They run to the middle of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and face the stage that morale captains are filling, ready to begin the choreographed dance. It’s lengthy (the 2017 line dance was almost seven minutes long), it’s elaborate and it’s a lot of fun. Dancing in sync with hundreds of people around you isn’t something you get to do every day. The line dance is also performed at most DM events throughout the year, so it’s like a reunion getting to dance the line dance for old time’s sake.
DM takes a lot of work. The work for the next year begins just weeks after the event is over. It takes a dedicated group of hundreds of students and organizations who fundraise, organize and put on such a time-consuming and successful event. The commitment displayed by students at UF who are overalls, captains and delegates for DM is something that builds character. These students are proven leaders who care about the cause they are involved in.
3. The Kids
The slogan of DM is ‘For The Kids,’ or FTK. The kids are what draws so many people to DM and makes it so hard to leave. The families of miracle children, kids who have been saved at a CMN hospital, attend DM and tell their stories that stick with you long after the event. It is no surprise they tell stories that are difficult to hear and heartbreaking to imagine happening to someone’s child. The kids at DM are inspiration to all the dancers and fundraisers and are always so thankful for what DM has done for them. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for them, too!