UF Dance Marathon breaks record with $2 million total
The 21st annual Dance Marathon at the University of Florida raised more than $2 million in less than a year – making it the second highest grossing Dance Marathon benefiting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the nation, as well as the fastest to reach $2 million in the history of the program.
More than 800 students stood on their feet in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for 26.2 hours on March 14 and 15, raising funds and awareness for the pediatric patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. The students stand to advocate for children who cannot due to illness, disease or injury, said Tyler Craig, a senior who was dancing in his fourth Dance Marathon.
“We continue to make miracles happen for every dollar raised and every moment stood,” he said. “My life was changed forever by Dance Marathon, and I hope that the work done during my four years has the ability to change the lives of our Miracle Families, too.”
Miracle Children and their families, in addition to several hundred spectators and friends gathered to attend the grand reveal, where student organizers held signs displaying the final total of $2,015,307.17 — a 31 percent increase over last year’s $1,528,330. Collectively, UF, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Central Florida raised more than $3 million this year, representing the second, fifth and seventh highest Dance Marathons in the country. All proceeds benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, funding the latest in research, program support, technology and diversionary activities for patients, such as video games and art projects.
With a motto of “For the Kids,” students danced alongside patients and heard firsthand from Ambassador Families who shared how Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has impacted them personally.
“There are no words to express just how much of an impact Dance Marathon has on our family,” said Mindy Lewis, mother of Ambassador Child Kendall. “These college kids don’t know us personally — yet every single student in that building this weekend treated our kids like royalty. They got down to their level and played with them and danced with them. To say my heart is happy is an understatement—it is bursting with pride!”
More than 6,000 students fundraise yearlong through community events, hospitality and marketing nights at local businesses to ensure the effort is a success. Dance Marathon at UF began in 1995 as one of the five founding Dance Marathons in the nation — with just 79 dancers who stayed on their feet for 32 hours and raised $12,424. In the past 20 years, more than $8 million has been raised in support of the children’s hospital and the department of pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine.
“The raw emotions these young adults showed at the reveal proved that they love our kids as much as we do,” Lewis said. “I have never been more proud of a group of people than I was after this weekend. This event will forever hold a special place in our hearts.”