What makes DM at UF different from other schools?

Gainesville, Florida is known for a few important things. For one, it’s home to the University of Florida and over 50,000 thriving students. It’s known for Gator Football, Tim Tebow and Saturdays in the Swamp. It’s known for the incredible care children receive at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, and most importantly, it’s known for being home to the most successful student-run philanthropy in the southeastern United States: Dance Marathon at UF.

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida isn’t just a yearlong philanthropy, it’s a movement that involves 19 Overall Directors, 386 Captains, 174 Emerging Leaders, 150 partners, 6,861 fundraisers and over 43,746 total donations. It has spread campus-wide, intertwining organizations, students, faculty, community members and highlights the very core of the heart of the Gator nation.

For the last 22 years, Dance Marathon at the University of Florida has raised more than 12.4 million dollars for the kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital–making it the number two DM program in the whole country (and world). Although Dance Marathon is spread among campuses across the country, at the University of Florida, it’s something special that truly brings us all together.

DM is different at UF than anywhere else because of our close proximity to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Students at UF have the unique opportunity to experience and witness first-hand exactly how profoundly DM impacts the lives of the children at the hospital. We are so lucky to have Shands within walking distance from campus, enabling students to spend time volunteering, working and visiting the hospital.

Students are encouraged to go on hospital tours, where they get to visit the different pediatric floors, interact with children who are patients at Shands, talk to doctors and nurses and see the life-saving equipment donated by the Children’s Miracle Network. UF students get to see miracle children and their families at events in Gainesville, spend time with them and get to put names and faces to a cause that so many people are so dedicated to. It’s easy to be motivated to fundraise for a cause you can directly see who is benefitting from, and because of Shands proximity to UF, it gives students the ability to experience the impact they are making. Seeing the different life-saving machines with the little red CMN stickers on them, seeing the clean, bright, cheery entrance and new neonatal unit that were only made possible by donations raised by Dance Marathon are ways to inspire students to keep fundraising and stay involved in Dance Marathon.

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida is unlike anywhere else. It’s a contagious feeling of involvement and giving that students do because they want to, not because they have to. DM at UF is something bigger than each individual student or individual organization or individual team. DM at UF is a movement of people coming together to fight for children who are too sick to fight for themselves. At the end of the 26.2 hours when everyone is exhausted, sore, and drained, they will raise the numbers up with the fundraising total and every individual who contributed to those numbers will have hearts bursting with pride and joy at the incredible miracles made by students who are doing their best to make a difference for the most amazing children.

-Ashleigh B.

2017 DM Resolutions


  1. ‘Get fit & healthy’
    Get your fitness on! Walk to class, run with friends and save some time to exercise daily so that you’re prepared to stand for 26.2 hours! Staying fit and healthy will keep you energized to stand and fight for those who can’t. (Sign up for FT5K to work on this resolution! http://events.dancemarathon.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=1450)
  2. ‘Live life to the fullest’

People feel happiest when they’re spreading happiness to others. Focus on loving those around you and encouraging a positive, uplifting atmosphere. Enjoying life to the fullest means appreciating the small things, recognizing the unique and special UF community that we have and remembering that it is far better to give than to receive.

  1. ‘Spend less, save more’

This popular resolution will help you save money and fundraise for DM! Skip out on that $5 Starbucks order and donate to a friend’s page. Think about unnecessary purchases, and how you can be more resourceful. Every dollar can help make a difference in the lives of our miracle children. Think FTK!

4. ‘Spend more time with family and friends’

Grab dinner with friends at hospitality nights and come up with fun fundraising incentives! Talk with your family and loved ones about your passions, and why DM is important to you. Enjoy time with your friends and family, and spend time getting to know the miracle families – you’ll make forever friendships here.

5. ‘Get organized’

Organize important dates, email templates, letters, fundraising techniques and a Dance Marathon survival kit so that you can make the most of the event that is always much closer than you think! Organization is the key to a stress-free 2017… and one resolution that can help foster an exciting, encouraging, impactful Dance Marathon at the University of Florida!

Happy New Year, and good luck, Gators!

-Casey McLean