Dance Marathon is more than just dancing. It’s about staying active and on your feet for six hours to raise money and awareness “For the Kids.”
The eighth annual event was held Feb. 23 to rase money for The Children’s Hospital in downtown Macon.
Dance Marathon is a nationwide organization where over 100 colleges participate in raising money for The Children’s Miracle Network hospital in their community. The yearlong process of raising money culminates at one end-of-the-year event to celebrate the money raised.
Ellen Begley, this year’s director of Mercer’s Dance Marathon said that although raising money is always a challenge, the greatest sense of accomplishment is announcing the total raised and knowing it’s going to directly help children who need it.
This year’s total was over $9,000 and donations are continuing to come in.
Begley joined the Dance Marathon executive board following her freshman year after participating in the event.
After hearing the personal miracle stories from families in Macon, a sorority sister of Begley’s and being directly impacted after an accident that led to Begley’s brother being treated in The Children’s Hospital, Begley was eager to become more closely involved in Dance Marathon.
“Hearing the miracle stories of people treated in The Children’s Hospital, you realize [Dance Marathon] impacts people more than yourself and it’s the people who generally care that make the difference,” Begley said.
This year’s event featured two miracle stories from families in Macon and a video that expressed the purpose of Dance Marathon and the Children’s Miracle Network. Participants broke up into four different teams that danced, played games and crafted all while staying active and on their feet for the full six hours.
The executive committee works yearlong to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network through milestone events and a number of smaller fundraisers within the Week of Hope. The Week of Hope generally consists of restaurant nights and percentages of sales benefiting The Children’s Hospital in the week’s leading up to the grand Dance Marathon event.
Kristina Drew first participated in Dance Marathon as a freshman at Georgia College and State University before transferring to Mercer her sophomore year. This year, as a junior, she served on the executive committee as the day of the event planner and will serve as director of Dance Marathon next year.
“Dance Marathon at Georgia College was the most inspiring event that I have ever attended,” Drew said. “I was dreading it because I couldn’t imagine being on my feet for 12 hours but I’m so glad and so happy that I went because it completely impacted my whole view of Children’s Miracle Network.”
Drew’s goals for next year include raising more money and awareness for the cause by striving to encourage a wider variety of people to participate in the actual event. In order to do so, she hopes to implement milestone events every month, extend the executive board, and raise the amount of hours Dance Marathon is held. At other universities, Dance Marathon can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
“I really hope to involve the entire Mercer campus, including Mercer Law and Mercer Medicine, in order to get our total up,” Drew said. “It’s important to raise awareness and money so that the hospital can accommodate kids going through scary situations.”
The Macon Children’s Hospital’s neo-natal unit currently exists due to funds raised by Mercer and Georgia College and State’s efforts through Dance Marathon.
This year’s event had over 80 participants, signed up as either individuals or through sponsored organizations.
Next year’s fundraising efforts will begin with a kick-off in late August or early September.
“In past years Dance Marathon has really been advertised more to the Greek community and we want to start reaching out to all of Mercer’s campus and faculty members,” Drew said. “We just want everyone on Mercer’s campus to know what Dance Marathon is and want to get involved.”
Those interesting in participating next year, sponsoring the event or applying to be on the 2014 executive committee should contact Kristina Drew at [email protected] Applications are due March 8.