Transform Today & Moralloween

The feeling of Transform Today is like no other. Our entire campus and community came together for 26.2 hours: energized and determined to seize the day and make more miracles than ever before. Students gathered together across the Gainesville community in a sea of brightly colored Dance Marathon T-Shirts and polos sharing their passion for our cause with strangers. They canned, flyered, asked for even $1 and fought for the kids that fight every day. But, our brave Miracle Children at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital fought even harder spending Transform Today inspiring others and fundraising themselves to help lost loved ones and kids like them. Businesses around Gainesville also gave their time to support our cause. 

The day echoed the power of a united community. This year, our community came together to raise a total of $652,946.26, all For The Kids. 

We celebrated the end of Transform Today on Flavet Field last Wednesday. The open field became a Halloween celebration full of infectious smiles and incredible moments for our annual Moralloween. Families enjoyed Halloween games, haunted houses, face painting and a pumpkin patch. Miracle Children shined with joy as they showed off their creative costumes in the Miracle Child fashion show and collected their favorite candies at Halloween-themed booths set up by Organizations participating in Dance Marathon. 

Our Miracle Child Bailey expressed how happy she was to see her Dance Marathon friends dressed up as characters from her favorite movie series, “The Descendants.” However, she said her favorite part of Moralloween was collecting candy from every single booth. Meanwhile, Miss K, dressed as a UF Volleyball Player, enjoyed practicing her volleyball skills with old and new friends.

Another Miracle Child Bella, dressed as a princess. Stuffing her face with candy, she said, “My favorite part of Moralloween was dancing around with everyone and seeing the total amount raised on Transform Today.” 

The night concluded with an eruption of applause and excitement as the Transform Today fundraising total was revealed. But, the joy behind that number shows that our cause is about so much more. Inspiring events like Transform Today and Moralloween serve as reminders to enjoy every moment and spend time with those who inspire you, as we Rise As One toward a brighter tomorrow.

Adrienne’s Miracle Story

Happy Miracle Monday!

To start our miracle Monday series, we are sharing the story of one of our Miracle Children, Adrienne! 

Before Adrienne was even born, her doctors kept a watchful eye on her development. Her older brother was born with a heart defect, so they wanted to be sure that if she had it too, they would find it early on. But, despite their concern, Adrienne made her way into the world a healthy and happy baby girl. When she was about seven weeks old, things began to change. Adrienne got sick and despite medications and numerous doctor visits, she couldn’t get better. 

Adrienne was eventually diagnosed with Hydrocephalus and Arnold Chiari. In simpler terms, she has two conditions, one that causes fluid to accumulate in her brain and the other where her brain tissue extends into her spinal canal. In 2007, doctors placed a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt in Adrienne, relieving the pressure on her brain. This was only a short-term fix, and after a few months, in 2008, she had another surgery. This surgery removed a small portion of her skull to release pressure from the brain stem, known as a Posterior Fossa Decompression. In 2010, Adrienne had a second Posterior Fossa Decompression surgery, and between these two procedures, she also had a mic-key feeding tube, put in. Adrienne now follows up with her neurosurgeon once a year for a routine MRI and for any other issues that may happen in between.

Although Adrienne has faced many hardships in her life, she has continued to live her life to its fullest. No matter what, you will always see her with a smile on her face. She lights up any room she walks into. 

Last weekend, Adrienne turned 13 years old! She celebrated with the Morale Team by spray painting the Norman Tunnel, something that has been on her bucket list. Adrienne is a great student and spends her free time in gymnastics class and on her middle school’s cheerleading team. 

Adrienne got involved with Dance Marathon a little over 5 years ago after meeting Nick, another Miracle Child, and his family. Over the years, she has grown so close with her Dance Marathon Family. You can find her jumping on stage at Dance Marathon events, making TikTok dances and running around with all of her favorite college friends. Adrienne is so inspired by Dance Marathon that one day she hopes to attend UF and be a member of the Morale Team. 

“I think it is so cool that these kids can aspire to be DM students,” said Adrienne’s mom. “They feel so loved and inspired by this movement, that they want to be able to take over those roles one day.” 

Tomorrow, we strive to impact and inspire more kids like Adrienne, during Transform Today, our annual 26.2-hour fundraising push day. Join us as we fight to create a brighter future For The Kids.

Where The Funds Go

As you walk through a hospital, you don’t usually picture dozens of balloons scattered through the rooms and hallways; yet at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, they are everywhere. The Children’s Miracle Network balloon icon is proudly plastered on equipment provided by CMN funds, and any member of the Dance Marathon at the University of Florida family can walk along and see the direct impact he or she is making at every turn. An unimaginable number of kids and families enter the doors of UF Health Shands every year. To provide the best care, the children’s hospital relies on donations and community support – this is where DM at UF steps in to fill the funding gaps and support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.

Every single dollar raised by DM at UF goes directly to UF Health Shands. These contributions manifest themselves in simplicities such as bandages and patient gowns, as well as life-saving machinery and hospital unit expansions. Because of the efforts of students who devote themselves to our cause, the positive impacts are limitless. With every cent donated, our doctors are more empowered to discover cures for diseases like cystic fibrosis, cancer, and diabetes. With every story shared, more individuals become aware of CMN’s mission and the actions taken to give every child a chance at childhood. This past year, we proved that when we #RiseAsOne, $3,230,025.23 miracles can be made. Here is a closer look at where those miracles specifically went:

  • Over $1 million has been devoted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit’s new supply of monitors that features non-invasive ventilation and wireless coverage transport monitors that document a patient’s levels while he or she moves around.
  • Approximately $200,000 went to the operating rooms’ addition of a computer console used to support patients in heart failure. This pump provides better blood flow to the rest of the body and is programmed to each patient’s specific needs.
  • Nearly $400,000 went to the Child Life Program, which aims to create a positive hospital environment and serves as a support system for children and their families. The Child Life Program provides therapy for children dealing with trauma and helps children understand their diagnoses, all through interactive play. 

So, in conclusion, if you are asking, “Where do the funds go?”

They go to the cot a terrified yet hopeful set of parents sleep on, so they can be there to hear their daughter laugh for the first time in the middle of the night.

They go to the laundry machines that save a mother’s sanity, so she can have the smallest comfort of clean clothes while she remains by her child’s side.

They go to the toy car that makes a boy smile despite fighting the battle for his life.

They go to the innovative machinery that saves a girl’s life when she wouldn’t have stood a chance without it.

The money you raise, the money your friends raise, the money every single person with a DM at UF logo on their shirt raises does not just go to research, education, and patient care. It goes far beyond that. It goes to giving every child, parent, and loved one the opportunity to regain some control of their life, the opportunity to achieve some, even if temporary, degree of happiness, and the opportunity to feel what everyone deserves to feel: hope.