‘Tis the Mini Season!

As of today, only 48 days remain until Dance Marathon at the University of Florida 2021! The Main Event will look different than in years past, but we are more excited than ever to continue creating miracles. We are thrilled to announce that “Mini Season” has already begun! Each year, with the support of Dance Marathon at UF Marathon Relations Captains, Mini Marathons offer high schoolers the opportunity to participate in their own version of our 26.2-hour event. 

Twenty-four high schools around the state of Florida have the chance to participate in our Mini Marathon program each year. The students at these schools play a vital role in our movement before their college years even begin. The money they raise contributes to our final total that is revealed at the end of our 26.2 hours, all going directly to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Last year, our Mini Marathon program raised a combined total of $626,314.23!

DM at UF’s Marathon Relations Captain Team consists of 46 members who are committed to bringing year-round energy and encouragement to high schools across the state as they plan and execute their own Dance Marathon event. Furthermore, our Mini Marathons provide a great opportunity for high school students to connect with our DM at UF Captains as they prepare for their own transition to college.

Vero Beach High School Senior Mary Bennett got involved with Dance Marathon as a freshman, and she hopes to continue her journey at UF in the fall. 

“Over the past four years, through the countless hours spent fundraising and hearing stories from UF Health Shands Miracle Children,” Bennett said, “I know I’ve found my passion.” We look forward to Vero Beach High School’s Mini Marathon on Mar. 19 as they contribute to our fight against pediatric illness.   

We are continuously inspired by the work put in by the incredible high schoolers that lead our Mini Marathons, and we can’t wait to see all that they accomplish this spring!

Miracles in Color 5K 2021 Recap

It was #TimeToUnite on Feb. 13 as we laced up our sneakers to embark on the Miracles in Color 5K as one unstoppable movement. Over 3.1 miles were walked for those who could not — For The Kids. 

All proceeds from Miracles in Color were donated to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. The course started at Flavet Field and ran through the University of Florida campus. At each color station, runners were doused in an array of vivid color. This year, DM at UF offered a virtual 5K option due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether people ran, walked or participated virtually, it all made a difference.

In all kinds of weather, we all stick together. For Victoria Leary, a Morale Captain, this rang true. Through rain and shine, the Dance Marathon at the University of Florida family prevailed.

Leary said Miracles in Color was a great way to finish off Spring Dancer Week and to get participants excited for this semester. Different shifts for runners helped to create efficiency and maintain a safe flow of people who could remain distanced, she said. 

“Miracles in Color was my favorite event from last year, so I was really excited for this year’s event,” Leary said. “Everyone did an amazing job pulling it off.”

The 5k was also a way for Captains, Emerging Leaders, Dancers and supporters to safely meet and interact with Miracle Families. Mateo H. has hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Before he was even born, doctors predicted that he had no chance of surviving. UF Shands Congenital Heart Center took a chance on Mateo. He has received two intense open-heart surgeries that prepared his body to live with only half a heart.

He is now a playful, smart, determined, soccer-loving little boy who enjoys hanging out with his older brother. Mateo’s family said he loved the Miracles in Color 5K.

“We thank you guys for doing these types of events for our kids,” Mateo’s mother said. “You guys push them to do amazing things.” 

Miracles in Color is more than just a 5K: It is an opportunity for the Dance Marathon community to tangibly see what it is working for and is reflective of DM at UF’s impact. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to visualize the Main Event, and it was inspirational.

“We feel so proud of him that he walked three miles,” Mateo’s mom said. “That is a tremendous milestone for him.” 

During the #TimeToUnite campaign, DM at UF will continue to advocate for change. It is time for us to show every child fighting at Shands that they have an entire army standing with them.

There are 52 days until the Main Event at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Miracles in Color 5K was just the beginning of this year’s final push.

Last chance to register to dance!

 

It wouldn’t be Dance Marathon at the University of Florida without our Dancers. Hundreds of students participate every year in the Main Event to benefit the patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. They remain awake to support educational programs, such as Child Life Diversion therapy, and raise awareness for the children at Shands Children’s Hospital. By fundraising thousands of dollars every year, they fund the necessary supplies, equipment, educational resources and research that goes toward finding solutions for incurable diseases. 

From learning the Linedance to hearing stories from our inspiring Miracle Families, each Dancer plays an important role in our philanthropy. Partaking in the Main Event as a Dancer is an experience like no other, and while they participate throughout the entire event, they also work throughout the year to make Dance Marathon a reality. A few Dancers shared their reasons for registering, what makes the Dance Marathon community here at UF special and what the organization means to them: 

Julia Toledo

“I decided to join the organization because after my first year at UF, I saw how big Dance Marathon was, and I wanted to be a part of something that truly made an impact on the community around me. I joined as a Dancer as a way to become more involved and have a more personal experience.”

Macy Monsour

“I decided to be a Dancer because I wanted to be more involved and meet other people involved in Dance Marathon. In elementary school, I knew a kid who had cancer, and he battled it for 10 years before sadly passing away. Seeing him fight and all the struggles he went through inspired me to further help other kids with cancer.”

Amanda Fernandez 

“I became a Dancer for Dance Marathon because it is a small yet impactful thing I can do with my friends to help the children around us. I find these children to be inspiring and anything that I can do to aid them or their parents really warms my heart. I also love how we get to know the children, and being a Dancer would give me the opportunity to actually meet the children and see what a massive effect DM at UF had on these children and their lives.” 

While the Main Event will look different this year, we know one thing will remain the same: our Dancers will continue to make up an integral part of Dance Marathon. We couldn’t do what we do without them. With a little less than nine weeks until the Main Event, there is no better time to register to become a Dancer for DM at UF 2021. You can register as an individual or sign up with an Organization. 

We are making the Main Event more inclusive than ever before. This year, there will be two 13.1-hour shifts to make sure that we are taking every precaution possible to safely execute the event. To ensure that we accommodate all participants, Dancers can also attend Dance Marathon 2021 through the virtual experience option. If you are ready to join us in the fight to end childhood illness, you can register to be a Dancer for DM at UF here: https://events.dancemarathon.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=ticket.start&eventID=4327

Time To Unite

With a new year ahead of us, comes new challenges and new uncertainty. We have no idea what 2020 had in store for us and now it is time to discover what lies ahead of us for the year 2021. 

There are 61 days until Dance Marathon 2021. 61 days to come together as one movement and fight for a cause that means so much to all of us. 61 days to change a child’s life. 

Reilly is 5, and he’s been waiting for a heart transplant for 280 days. 280 days in the hospital, when he should’ve been playing with his friends and family instead. 280 days, in the middle of a pandemic, with many visitor restrictions in place. Reilly needs us to unite together for him and to show him that he is not waiting alone. We need to show him that every person involved in Dance Marathon is supporting him, whether we’re inside that hospital or not. 

We all have the power to change a child’s life, whether it’s by running in the Miracles in Color 5K, raising $5 by doing a random act of kindness for a friend, or dancing your heart out at the Main Event. 

By coming together we can alter the course of pediatric illness. Dance Marathon at UF has united year after year to bring hope to the children at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and we will not stop until the day no child wears a hospital band.

There are many other children like Reilly down the road at Shands Children’s Hospital right now. We need to show these children that while they may be in a hospital room alone, we are fighting alongside them every day, as one united movement.

While each of us has the power to impact a child’s life, imagine how much more powerful we are when we unite together. We are all fighting for the same cause, and we can accomplish so much more united together than we can as individuals.

Let’s take this new year on together, as one movement. It is time to unite for not only Reilly but for all the children at Shands. It is our #TimeToUnite to show every child fighting at Shands that they have an entire army fighting behind them.