#RedefiningMoment- Owen Maier’s Mother

Owen Maier, a Miracle Child, was born with transposition of the great arteries, a heart condition his parents didn’t know he had until he was born. The pulmonary artery and aorta were formed incorrectly on the wrong side.

“You have a vision of how your baby is supposed to be born, especially with your first child being healthy, and suddenly they’re taking him away.”

Owen had open heart surgery when he was 2 weeks old. After 2 months at UF Health Shands, Owen went home for first time. He is almost 5 years old, hasn’t been inpatient since newborn, and now is monitored monthly.

“We became involved with DM when Owen was just over a year old, and the first year, we weren’t much of a part of anything. We really just showed up at the event. The second year, we learned more about what was going on. But last year, the true defining moment for me, as a mom of a child who has been sick—you guys always tell us how much we inspire you, but you don’t know how much you inspire us. You guys…are teaching my children philanthropy. I’ve always had that inside of me, that wanting to help others. I want to help in any way I can to help others. DM is showing my kids what life is all about—in my opinion, why I think we’re here. I am so in awe. You collect one penny at a time to this amazing organization that represents lives saved. Without what you guys have done, my son might not have had access to the equipment and the processes that saved his life. A friend has a daughter who just started at UF and was talking to me about how she can be involved, and I told him she had to be involved in DM. I said it’s a movement! If you don’t know about it, you should!”

“Our second year with DM, our FR captain was Jake, and with him, I became okay to let go and let people play with my kids. I felt that I could walk away for a second. We’re able to trust you guys with our most prized possessions—our children. I can have that relaxing moment, because to be honest, we never really get those moments. Our kids look forward to it. When I tell my kids we’re doing something with DM, they literally jump up and down. All I have to say is ‘DM’, and they’re ready to get in the car.”

I Love Dance Marathon Because…

February is the month of love and we asked students, parents, and Miracle Children what they love about Dance Marathon. Here are some of their responses.

“I love Dance Marathon because it brought me closer to other people who share the same passion I do.”

“I love this cause because it helps families like mine.”

“I love DM at UF because I get to help children and their families.”

“I love Dance Marathon because I get to hang out with great people, including the Miracle Families.”

“I love DM because it allows me to bring awareness to such an important cause.”

“I love Dance Marathon at the University of Florida because it is my family.”

“I love DM because we play fun games.”

“I love Dance Marathon because it helps me and kids like me get better.”

 

#RedefiningMoment- Kristina Brennan

Redefining Moments- Overall, Kristina Brennan

Kristina Brennan is a Senior Criminology major with a triple minor in Leadership, Religion, and Disabilities in Society from Weston, Florida. She loves to go to the beach and hang out with her friends/boyfriend. Kristina dreams of being a lawyer and is currently in the process of applying to law schools, wish her luck! Kristina is very active in organizations around campus, especially Dance Marathon at the University of Florida. This is her fourth year being involved and she serves as the Leadership Development Overall for DM 2018. When asked what her “Redefining Moment” was, here is what she said:

“I write this as the Leadership Development Overall for Dance Marathon 2018, but my involvement with Dance Marathon started three years ago as a Dancer for Alpha Omicron Pi. I enjoyed my time and yearned to be a Recruitment Captain the following year, so I applied and was lucky enough to be accepted onto the team. As I write this and try to describe the pivotal moment that redefined my commitment to strive to be a better person, I realize there was no singular moment. It was the accumulation of little moments that made me fall head over heels in love with this organization. It’s the memories of being carried by a stranger when I was a Dancer because I was that exhausted, of when I did my Recruitment Captain interview over Facetime in the Emergency Room because I had shattered my arm hours beforehand, and of some people I didn’t know well in Dance Marathon becoming what I treasure most in the world. Transform Today was one of, if not the best, days of my life. My team raised over $102,000.00 in 26.2 hours and as a school we shattered our record from last year by raising over $540,000.00. The very next day after, I was on the phone with Kris, the Recruitment Overall and a very dear friend of mine, and ignored my sister’s phone call. I was telling Kris that we needed to take a day to appreciate the beauty around us. It was the perfect day and I lamented how we all worked so hard that we forget to take the time to see what we have accomplished. My sister had left a voicemail during this time and I still keep it to this day, “Hey Kristina. This is Kelly. Please give me a call. This is regarding dad. Bye!”. Fifteen words that would destroy me. I called her back and she told me our father had a massive stroke. Sparing the details of what was weeks and months of the darkest times in my life, my father is now working to fight every single day. I keep that voicemail to give me perspective. Whenever I am feeling lazy, whenever I want to give up, and even when I do well, I listen to that voicemail to remind myself that I can always do more, give more, and be more. We constantly talk about redefining a single moment in Dance Marathon, and I’m such an adamant believer in this mentality because a series of single moments changed everything for me, so why couldn’t these moments change the next generation of UF students as well.”

We are so inspired by everything our Overalls do for us, and can’t wait to see them ~redefine moments~ for the rest of their lives!

-Lauren Palen

#TransformToday Reflection

 

As Transform Today has come to an end, we reflect on the passion, support and unity exhibited on this special day.

We set a goal to raise $500,000 in 26.2 hours for 500 individuals whose lives have been transformed by one fearless fight against childhood illness.

Throughout the day, campus was painted with every color of Dance Marathon polos. Captains, ELPs, and supporters passed out flyers and canned to raise money and awareness.

The Plaza of the Americas, a free speech area on campus, was decked out in DM.

Overall Captains took pies to the face for donations, Miracle Children encouraged participants and supporters to keep pushing to reach their goals, an ELP lead an FTKardio class, free tie-dyeing took place with the purchase of a Transform Today shirt and the Wall of Fame was set as an incentive to raise $500.

A lot was happening, but it was the comradery, dedication and desire to make an impact that left a mark on all who took part in Transform Today.

At Dance Marathon at the University of Florida, our goal is to Redefine Tomorrow. We strive to do this so that one day no child will battle against life-threatening illnesses.

Days like Transform Today motivate and inspire us to continue working to make a difference. It serves as an example that together we can do anything we put our minds to.

As we move on from Transform Today, I encourage you to think about how you can make individual strides to Redefine Tomorrow in your everyday life.

The question is, how will you Redefine Tomorrow?

– Sarah Bartholemy 

Ideas for Fundraising #TransformToday

Fundraising comes in all different shapes and sizes, and can go far beyond sending texts or emails. Need ideas for creative ways to raise money in these 26.2 hours? Check out some of the different ways Dance Marathon participants are raising money to #TransformToday.

Jeana Fraser, Emerging Leader:

Jeana posted a graphic on Facebook listing different favors and services she could offer in exchange for donations. Some of these included inspirational texts for $2, or editing a resume for $15.

“I’ve been going on coffee runs, giving people rides, and creating resumes for them,” she said. “I’m doing this because I’ve already asked a lot of people for donations and want to raise as much as I can.”

Justin Weidenfeld, Dancer Relations Captain:

Justin decided to make omelettes for anyone who donated $6 to his Donor Drive.

“I chose to make omelettes because I’m not the most talented person, but I make some pretty delicious omelettes,” Justin said. “I sold them for $11 and actually made a few IOU omelettes for friends who had class. I raised a little over $150 on the three hours!”

Scottie Andrew, Outreach Captain:

Scottie took her talents to her friend’s Facebook timelines, offering poems, reenactments of their favorite vines, or a motivational speech, each for $1 donation. Additionally, she is offering to pick up people’s food from Hospitality Night restaurants and personally deliver it to them.

“I don’t get behind anything I don’t believe in wholeheartedly, and I really do believe in DM [because] I’ve seen the good it does,” Scottie said. “I was trying to target fellow students [to get donations], so I chose things I’d pay money for.”

If you’re still at a loss for donation tactics, try some of these:

  • Doing laundry
  • Giving rides
  • Selling baked goods
  • Walking dogs
  • Washing cars/scooters
  • Selling clothes

 

What Should You Be For Halloween?

What should YOU be for Halloween? We asked the Miracle Children what they think you should be! They even gave us some tips on how they made their costumes this year.

  1. What is your favorite animal?
  1. Panda
  2. Cat
  3. Penguin
  4. Dog
  1.  What’s your favorite candy?
  1. Snicker’s
  2. Skittles
  3. Gummy worms
  4. Kit Kat
  1.  Do you like Trick or Treating?
  1. Yes, it’s awesome!
  2. I like to pass out candy instead
  3. No, I prefer to stay home and watch Halloweentown!
  4. Only for a few hours!
  1. What’s your favorite song to sing?
  1. “Blank Space”
  2. “Roar”
  3. “Let it Go”
  4. “Fight Song”
  1. What’s your favorite color?
  1. Blue
  2. Purple
  3. Yellow
  4. Red
  1. What’s your favorite movie?
  1. Harry Potter
  2. Monster’s Inc.
  3. Despicable Me
  4. Cars

Results:

Mostly A’s

Expecto Patronum! Nate thinks you should be Harry Potter! Nate said he chose Harry Potter this year because he is “such a smart and cool guy,” His favorite Harry Potter movie is the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Be safe trick or treating tonight!

Mostly B’s

Meow! Bailey thinks you should be a black cat! Bailey said she thinks cats “are so fluffy and cute.” She paired her costume with a tutu and Lularoe leggings which are soft and comfortable she said. Bailey recommends some fuzzy or crochet cat ears to go with your costume. Be safe trick or treating tonight!

Mostly C’s

Boo! Kinsey thinks you should be a skeleton! Ahh spooky! She thinks this will be a great costume for you this year! Add some color to the skeleton or a fun twist on the traditional costume! Be safe trick or treating tonight!

Mostly D’s

I’m ready! I’m ready! Ayden thinks you would make a hilarious Spongebob this Halloween! Ayden chose Spongebob because he thinks he is “such a funny guy”. He thinks you would pull off a great Spongebob for Halloween this year! Ayden said his grandma made his costume for him! Be safe trick or treating tonight!

Football Friday

One of the best parts about being a Gator is the opportunity to come together almost every Saturday of the fall semester to cheer on our football team in the Swamp. On Football Friday, we got to sit down with wide receiver Brandon Powell, #4, to hear his own Miracle Story.

Growing up in a big family, with many siblings, I learned the importance of taking care of and serving others. My family is my motivation to be the best that I can be. My younger brother Brad is a huge motivation of mine. As a baby, Brad was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Brad is one of the most loving, kind and charismatic individuals that I have ever met. He takes on life with a genuine smile and a warm hug no matter what obstacles stand in his way. He doesn’t care about anyone’s negativity or unkindness, instead he greets them with a grin and continues on with his day. Brad’s courage and fearlessness has taught me a lot about the game of life. His tenacity and positive spirit in every situation motivates me to work hard in school and all that I do. I am proud to be his big brother.”

– Vicki Arguelles

#ThrowbackThursday

Multi-year Dancer Q&A

Four-year Dancers embody the passion and devotion that encourages all of us who remain at the University of Florida to #RedefineTomorrow. At the end of their time at UF they will have danced for a total of 104.8 hours For The Kids, both an honor and outstanding accomplishment. For this #ThrowbackThursday, we asked a soon to be four-year Dancer to reflect on her years with Dance Marathon at the University of Florida.

  1. What is your name and how did you first get involved in Dance Marathon at UF?

My name is Taylor Hupp. Dance Marathon was the first UF event I experienced after I was admitted as a student. I attended the Orange and Blue Debut game when I was a senior in high school, which was coincidentally the same weekend as DM. I had some friends who were on Staff take me onto the floor, and it was one of the coolest experiences I could have ever asked for to begin my journey as a UF student.

  1. What have been some of your favorite memories over your years of dancing?

Some of my favorite memories are the people I met throughout my years of dancing. While on the floor, it is so easy to jump right in and talk to many people who are all in the same position as you. Whether it is someone next to you at a meal, or just a friendly face trying to help you make it through the last couple of hours, the sense of camaraderie is one of my favorite things about DM. I also got to meet Miss America last year who is a sorority sister, so that was really cool.

  1. What are you looking forward to most for your last Dance Marathon?

Besides an extra swim / shower shift (kidding!), I am most looking forward to pushing myself to raise the most I ever have this year. Although I will miss DM weekend once I am finished, I am very excited to finish off my senior year knowing I have contributed to such an incredible cause every year in college. I also really don’t think it hurts as much when you know you won’t be able to do it again, so that is a bonus as well.

  1. What motivates you to keep dancing each year?

Every day, I am so incredibly fortunate to wake up and go to school, see my friends, go to the gym, etc. While college may be very difficult academically, it is nothing compared to what these children endure every day of their lives. If I can stand for 26.2 hours to help take years of suffering away from their lives, I would do it every day if I could. Dance Marathon always puts my good fortune into perspective for me, and it is an extremely humbling experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  1. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in your years of dancing?

The funniest thing that has happened to me was during my Freshman year when me and my roommate were Dancers together. Her friend brought her a donut in the morning, and she just began bawling her eyes out because she was so thankful. We were delirious and couldn’t stop laughing about it for weeks.

  1. How has Dance Marathon affected your experience as a student at the University of Florida?

Dance Marathon has allowed me to become part of something bigger than myself and join a community on campus with one common, incredible goal. It creates a greater purpose for every student involved, and it not only makes me proud to be a Gator, but also a FTK Gator.

 

Why UF? Wednesday

To find a college that accommodates all of one’s wishes and desires is a difficult task, but the University of Florida has proven to be an institution that stands out for a multitude of reasons. With a campus that serves over 50,000 students, it is evident that the UF’s audience continues to grow and be supported by potential new students, current students and their families, and the proud alumni. As UF promotes diversity through their student body, organizations and opportunities available, students have the ability and are encouraged to find who they are, what they stand for, and surround themselves with the most innovative movers and shakers of the 21st century.

While students have their own reasons for choosing the University of Florida, they have also found their homes and secret getaways throughout the 2000 acres on campus and within the nooks and crannies of the 900 different buildings located throughout the area. These locations resonate with the rest of the student body and allow the campus to feel as if the Gainesville area is their own little slice of heaven, amongst the hectic nature of the college environment.

Some students shared their favorite places on campus include:

Hospitality Overall, Allison Jones has a distinct location that encapsulates the University of Florida to a tee. Allison said, “My favorite place is Row 90 of the Student Section in Ben Hill Griffin, particularly during sunset. Before the sunset, you can look around at the top of the stadium and receive a 360 degree, bird’s eye view of campus, with Century Tower peeking out through the trees and the distinct sound of the bells chiming in the distance. As the sun is going down, a blue and orange hue is apparent throughout the sky and serves to be a constant reminder of what it feels like to be a part of the Gator Nation.”  

When not giving tours, Jonathan Frish a Florida Cicerone, has a special place in mind that he deems to be the perfect setting in the UF area. He goes ahead and says, “My favorite place at UF would definitely be this huge, glorious tree in between Farrior Hall in the Murphree Area. While it’s an awesome tree to marvel at and study by, I managed to walk about twenty miles around this tree in one week during my sophomore year, while campaigning for a Student Government election. That tree has since stood as a symbol of persevering through challenges and dedicating as much effort as necessary to make this university great.”

As the Campus Diplomats try to individualize the experiences of the entire student body, each Campus Dip has made UF their own through their own favorite locations on campus. Brooke Kaplan, a junior in the organization stated that her favorite place to be on campus is Lake Alice. Brooke mentioned, “While there I can escape from the rigors of school and just appreciate the nature and the beauty that comes with the Gainesville area that can be overlooked if we focus too much on the stresses of college.”

The Executive Director of Project Makeover, Chelsea Carrasquillo states that the Plaza of the Americas is her favorite place to be on campus. She says, “I love the Plaza of the Americas because it’s at the heart of campus and the Plaza is surrounded by nature and greenery. It is always enjoyable to take a study break from Library West by walking out to the plaza, eno-ing with friends, or just enjoying a Starbucks coffee in the newly-renovated area of campus.”

A Family Youth and Consumer Sciences Professor, Kate Fletcher eloquently voiced her opinion of the best place on UF’s campus with the Baughman Center. Professor Fletcher said, “It’s where me and my husband, Jared, got married. It only fits around 98 people, but it’s such a  beautiful place of peace, reflection, tranquility, and light. The story behind the man who it is named after could make me cry right now and you need to look it up and read about him. The man made it to create a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of life.”

While everyone has their different places that stick out and make the university feel like home, the population of the University of Florida come together because they all have found their place within the Gator Nation.

-Camber Pecor

How Will You #RedefineTomorrow?

We asked some students and faculty today, and this is how they took a pledge to redefine tomorrow.

Jack DeLoach, Assistant Director of Mini Marathon Coordination for the Morale Team, stood in Turlington Plaza today offering free hugs to students passing by.

He gave around 320 hugs today.

“I redefine tomorrow by making someone smile. I may not change the whole world, but I can change their world,” DeLoach said.

DeLoach said he wanted to brighten up today and this week as much as possible with the Richard Spencer event being held on Thursday.

“It’s a hard week for everyone,” Deloach said. “There have been a lot of long hugs today, so I think people need them right now.”

President Kent Fuchs made an appearance in Turlington today. He wrote on his dry erase board: “I will redefine tomorrow by spreading more love.” The president also took advantage of a free hug from DeLoach and spoke with students in the plaza. Fuchs congratulated Dance Marathon students on their event Go Greater that he attended.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” Fuchs told Haley Schavemaker who is the Marathon Relations Overall Director. “You’re doing amazing things.”

“So many people, involved in DM or not, were excited to see him supporting Dance Marathon in the plaza today,” Schavemaker said.

Bailey Boulter, a graduate student and Family Relations Captain, said she will redefine tomorrow by doing little things to brighten miracle children’s days like letting Bailey Abbott use her polaroid camera.

“It’s awesome to see the smallest things we do being appreciated by the families and the miracle children,” Boulter said.

Emily Boulter joined her sister Bailey to write on the dry erase board. The sisters wrote that they would redefine tomorrow by spreading love to the families. Bailey said she will spread love to the families by reminding them that she will always be there for them, thinking of them and fighting for them.

So, now think to yourself, how will you #RedefineTomorrow?

– Annie Boersma