After 13.1 hours of dancing and months of preparation, Mizzou Dance Marathon participants’ efforts were rewarded with the announcement they had raised $152,402.44 on Sunday in the MU Recreation Center.
“The organization’s $75,000 yearly pledge works with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to support the hematology/oncology department, a music therapy program, part-time teachers’ salaries and the TeleHealth Loving Care program, a tool similar to Skype that allows active duty soldiers and parents in other hospitals to see their infants and speak with hospital staff via iPads," a Dance Marathon press release stated.
Dance Marathon’s fundraising efforts culminated in the main event Saturday at MizzouRec. Dancers began to arrive at noon and pledged to stay 13.1 hours, until 1:06 a.m.
There was no shortage of things to do during those 13.1 hours, though, with activities going on throughout the night. Separated from the dance floor were crafts and a inflatable bounce house that attracted dancers. Dancers were also encouraged to meet the miracle families. Each team of dancers was paired with Miracle Kids and interacted with them throughout the year.
“It puts a face to what you’re actually doing,” sophomore Allie Wrabel said. “I think it’s a big part of getting people to come back. When you see the kids and the families and hear their stories, it makes me want to do it again and get more people involved.”
For senior Sheridan Brown, spending time with some of the families was one of her favorite parts.
“I was running around with the family of one of the Miracle Kids,” Brown said. “We played ping pong with a balloon.”
There were also performances from dance crews, musicians, comedy groups and a zumba lesson throughout the night.
Being a dancer meant a lot to some students, and seeing the immensity of what they were participating in was an awakening experience, Wrabel said.
“I feel like it’s so cliché, but I danced for kids who can’t,” Wrabel said. “Thinking about people who legitimately can’t dance and having danced my whole life, it’s kind of a culture shock.”
Brown also said she had a very personal connection to the cause and a special reason for dancing. Two girls from her town that she went to school with recently brought cancer closer to Brown’s life.
“I just lost a friend to cancer two months ago,” Brown said. “Alissa passed away two days before Christmas. Taylor is fighting sarcoma of the bones. It means so much more when you know people that have been through it.”
At the end of the twelfth hour dancers were encouraged through their weariness with an immense final push called “power hour.”
“It was such an emotional last hour,” Brown said.
To begin power hour, Director of Recruitment Jesse Day gave a speech about the growth of the event. Dancers each had glow sticks that they illuminated based on the number of years they had participated. The light represented the work the students had done and what is to come for Dance Marathon.
Dance Marathon’s mantra, For The Kids, rang throughout the basketball courts almost constantly throughout the night as dancers chanted “MIZ-FTK." At the end of the power hour, dancers were rewarded for all of their efforts throughout the year with a reveal of the total money raised.
“The last hour of the Main Event was absolutely incredible,” said Annie Bastida, executive director of Mizzou Dance Marathon in a news release. “We’re so grateful to the dancers and community members who made this all possible. Everything we do is FTK (for the kids), and seeing the interactions between the dancers and our Miracle Kids was life-changing.”
Dance Marathon’s goal of $75,000 was obliterated by the $152,402.44 that, according to Mizzou Dance Marathon’s Facebook page, made MU's Dance Marathon the eighteenth largest dance marathon in the nation and the biggest student philanthropy at MU.
“It’s grown so much," Brown said. "It’s just crazy. Dance Marathon really brings the campus together.”