Student-led philanthropy sets high goal ‘for the kids’

The grand total amount of money raised at this year’s MizzouThon dance marathon will be revealed during the final hour of the event.
A student buys merchandise at the MizzouThon fundraiser Saturday, March 14, 2015, at the MizzouRec in Columbia, Mo.

In February, MizzouThon announced its pledge to raise $1 million over the span of five years to benefit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

The money raised will go toward adding 10 specialty beds, bringing the total to 48 beds to the wing, which will be renamed “MizzouThon Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

Their biggest fundraiser of the year is this Saturday: a 13.1-hour dance marathon beginning at noon Saturday in the Student Recreation Complex and ending at 1:00 a.m. Sunday. This year, the MizzouThon executive board rebranded the organization, changing the name from Mizzou Dance Marathon and switching the colors from black and blue to black and gold.

“Dancers are the main source of fundraising for MizzouThon, and we are excited to see them all at the main event,” Vice President of Marketing Kat Birkenbeuel said.

So far, MizzouThon has had about 860 people registered, which is the most the organization has ever had. Each student is placed onto one of the 20 teams of Miracle Kids — the pediatric patients MizzouThon partners up with.

Students who have registered and have raised $100 by noon Saturday will be able to dance in the main event, receive an event t-shirt, eat three meals, have snacks and more.

“Do’s” of the events include wearing comfortable clothes and shoes; bringing a water bottle, deodorant, money to buy merchandise and snacks; and getting ready to have a blast. The only “Don’t” of the event is sitting down.

“No sitting for the 13.1 hours,” Vice President of Communications Audrey Wilcox said. “This is symbolic that we are standing strong for all of the kids we benefit at the hospital. This sounds hard, but the day is so energizing, you won’t want to sit down.”

The grand total amount of money raised at this year’s MizzouThon dance marathon will be revealed during the final hour of the event, known as “Power Hour.”

“When the senior leadership team and the children’s hospital were discussing the options for a new pledge, the NICU seemed like a perfect choice, as most of our Miracle Kids have been treated in the NICU,” Birkenbeuel said.

MizzouThon and other dance marathons across the U.S. are part of a program called the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. MizzouThon’s leadership team chose MU’s children’s hospital since it is the only CMN hospital in the Columbia area, and it is where their Miracle Kids go for treatment.

Wilcox said MizzouThon was started in 2008 because they believed that everyone has the right to be a kid, according to MizzouThon’s website. They originally raised only about $13,500 annually, but last year’s grand total was more than $175,000 in donations.

“MizzouThon is so much more than this pledge,” Vice President of Families Shelby McGhee said. “Although our fundraising efforts are undoubtedly important, what makes the biggest impact on me is the relationships we get to build with our Miracle Families. Learning their stories, playing with the kids, and giving them the chance to be more than just patients — this is what gives me motivation to serve.”

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