Transform Today 2020

A sea of multicolored polos could be seen from corner to corner of our campus. The feeling is almost indescribable; an organization spanning all different majors, backgrounds and interests. An organization that provides hope to the students, the doctors at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and most importantly, the Miracle Families. 

In 2019, we gathered on a Tuesday morning and began a 26.2-hour fundraising event that brought us closer to one another and to a cause we feel such a deep connection to, Dance Marathon. One year later, our world has been turned completely upside down. In a time of uncertainty, our cause has never been more clear. The children at Shands Children’s Hospital need our help more than ever, and Transform Today allows us to create change in a matter of hours. It encompasses a full day and more of sharing our organization’s message, raising money for our Miracle Children and bonding with our teams and organizations – all linked through Dance Marathon.

This year, Transform Today will feature just as much excitement as years past. The day begins with our Circle of Hope Opening Ceremony on the Reitz North Lawn at 8 a.m. Throughout the day, the North Lawn will be the central hub for all things Dance Marathon: Check-Ins, activities, food and of course DM at UF merchandise! Inside the Reitz, multiple rooms have been reserved – such as the Fundraising Room, the Dancer Experience Room and the Morale Spirit Room, where participants will have the ability to safely interact with Captains, Dancers, Ambassadors and more as they learn about the importance of our cause and this event. Later in the evening, the Be The Light event will be taking place at 7:30 p.m. on Norman Field. This is an amazing opportunity to hear from a Miracle Family and listen to their impactful story. Each of these events will also be live-streamed on DM at UF’s social media for those who wish to remain virtual and still participate in our Transform Today festivities. In addition, all of our in-person events will follow CDC and UF guidelines of remaining socially distant and requiring facial coverings to be worn. After the Total Reveal on Wednesday, our annual Moralloween event will be taking place on Flavet Field and virtually through Zoom Conference. 

Transform Today is more than a day of fundraising, it’s a movement. This event brings Miracle Families, Emerging Leaders, Captains and Dancers together in an unexplainable way. It only gives students a hint of the excitement of the Main Event. 

“Transform Today was my first experience where I truly felt the community of DM at UF,” Morale Captain Logan Foster said. “It was the time where I truly felt united as an organization and connected with our cause the greatest.”

It’s #OurTimeNow, and with the current state of the world, we are all looking for something to hold onto. A community to comfort us. A cause to keep us looking forward. That cause is Dance Marathon at the University of Florida. DM at UF is a family that always fights for the kids, and the fight is not over until no kid suffers from a childhood illness. 

To current Family Relations Captain Jenny Gilby, being a part of this organization is a heartwarming experience.

“To me, #OurTimeNow is the opportunity for us to empower each other despite the circumstances in which we are living to make a positive impact on the lives of sick and injured kids in our community,” she said. “We have the unique opportunity to come together and be a positive force for change and to support those who need it the most.”

On the eve of our 2020 Transform Today, we want to take a moment to remind ourselves of the impact our time, money and effort will have throughout these upcoming 26.2 hours. In years past, this event has brought us together to create change. In a year where the word “hope” seems to have faded in meaning to many, we as an organization and campus have been given the opportunity to provide tangible change for our Miracle Families. We stand up now, for a brighter future for children battling childhood illness. Transform Today shows us there is no time like the present. It’s #OurTimeNow. 

Register to dance!

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida started over 27 years ago by students inspired by the efforts of Children’s Miracle Network and the strength of the children battling life-threatening illnesses. This organization’s year-long efforts all culminate in the annual life-changing event where Miracle Children, families and students come together to fundraise, share stories, make lifelong friends and ultimately, dance – all for the kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Each year, over 800 Dancers gather in the O’Connell Center and begin their journey dancing on their feet. Dancers are able to hear the compelling stories told by the Miracle Children and their families at the event while experiencing the gratitude these children have for this organization. Standing for the Main Event gives Dancers the opportunity to put the minor inconveniences in their own lives in perspective and to appreciate the strength the Miracle Children exemplify every day. Being surrounded by students with the same passion and positive mindset inspires everyone to keep dancing, even in the last hours of the event. 

Thanks to the Morale Captains, Dancers are able to keep their spirits high throughout the entire weekend. Each Dancer is taught the Linedance at the beginning of the event. All of the Dancers come together every hour to perform it flash mob style! Themed hours allow Dancers to show off their creativity and personality – with no costume being too over the top. If the excitement of hundreds of students dancing together under one roof is not exciting enough, the late night hours at the event help create the most memorable moments for Dancers. The Rave and the Silent Disco are always highlights of the event and keep everyone awake and excited to dance through the night.

Students at UF fundraise to claim their spots as Dancers in the annual event. Because of the passion and determination of these Dancers, this event has been able to raise millions of dollars each year to support the patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. The hours are long and exhausting, but they help build a deep connection to both the mission of Children’s Miracle Network and the families who have courageously shared their stories. Being a Dancer is more than just the hours spent on your feet. It is being one of the faces in the crowd that shows the Miracle Children that we are here, and we are fighting for them.

Sarah, who has been a Dancer three years in a row, said she first registered to dance after hearing about the event from the older women in her Panhellenic chapter.

“They talked endlessly about how amazing it was and how much of an impact it had on so many people,” Sarah said. “I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

Hearing the Miracle Families tell their stories was the most rewarding aspect, for it allowed her to see how grateful they are for everything this organization does for them, she said.

“Being a Dancer has changed me by putting my life into perspective,” Sarah said. “I think about inconveniences in my life, and I realize how small they are in comparison to these Miracle Families.”

Her biggest piece of advice to future Dancers: Stay positive – you get out what you put in!

The experiences that one gains as a Dancer follows you through your college years and shapes you into the person you aspire to be. Your efforts will impact the lives of so many children and will continue to create a better future for the ones who need it most. Register to dance today because it’s #OurTimeNow to fight harder than ever before.

Click here to register to dance for our 2021 Main Event: