Child Life’s Legacy

This March, it is Our Time Now to come together to make a difference for the Miracle Families and to give hope to every child at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. In order to do so, Dance Marathon at the University of Florida helps fund the Child Life program at Shands Children’s Hospital. Child Life is a meaningful program that was established to help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety of hospitalization. It supplies services such as games, arts and crafts, calming treatments and so much more while aiming to make hospital visits less scary and more fun. 

The Child Life program has greatly impacted our Miracle Children and their families. Kinsey began her journey at Shands in 2004. As the years have passed, Child Life has been there to provide Kinsey and her family with support and activities to help make her time in treatment easier. 

“Sarah, an artist in residence for Arts in Medicine at Shands, has helped Kinsey pass the time and forget about her medical issues while in dialysis and as an in-patient,” said Kinsey’s mother Holly Bogart. “She has fostered a love for art in Kinsey that will last forever.” 

Child Life will continue to be there for Kinsey as well as all the other Miracle Children throughout their time at Shands. 

As we focus on leaving our Legacy of Hope this month, think about the times when you were scared of the unknown. Maybe you were scared of a test score, submitting a job application or even the dark. That feeling is what these children experience every day of their lives. Child Life is there to help them feel comfortable while facing the unknown. 

Pledge to make your impact and fight for these children at our local hospital. The money you raise will directly impact the Child Life program by funding supplies they need to make a child’s stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. 

Click here to make your pledge to fundraise in honor of Child Life.

Their Time Then

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida and its participants are always learning and improving upon our organization because of our Alumni. Without them, we would have no one to look to for the future of our philanthropy. When someone participates in Dance Marathon at UF, he or she is forever a part of this organization and the DM at UF community. It is not only current participants who spread awareness about DM at UF but also our Alumni who play an integral role in the organization each and every day.

Arielle Darvin was involved in DM at UF from 2012 to 2016. During the first three years of her involvement in the organization, she was a Dancer and a Morale Captain. She became the Morale Overall for DM at UF in 2016 during her senior year. Below, she shares her experience with Dance Marathon, the meaningful impact it had on her life and the legacy she left on the organization:

“It is really difficult to discuss the person I am today or the trajectory my career path took without mentioning DM at UF; it really played a defining role in shaping my character and molding the way I interact with the families and children I work with. 

I truly desire to know and connect with families of children with disabilities and chronic health conditions – to really know their stories is what I strive for. I think this stems from my experiences with Dance Marathon, getting to know the Miracle Children and listening to families share their stories at events. Listening to Miracle Families express the impact that Dance Marathon and healthcare professionals profoundly had on their lives is the primary reason I decided to go into healthcare.

 Now, I work as a pediatric audiologist at a Children’s Miracle Network hospital, where I know the “Morale Overall” in me shines through every day. A wise Morale Captain of mine once said they would go above and beyond to bring Dance Marathon inspiration to those near and far in their life because it not only brought them joy, but because ‘the kids we play for can never have a big enough team.’ Dance Marathon at UF will always live in me, and I will forever be a part of this team.”

DM at UF has raised more than $24 million dollars for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital since its inception at the university in 1995. We would not have been able to achieve this without those who have come before us and paved the way for the future of our philanthropy. Their donations, efforts and support of our organization are only a few of the reasons that Dance Marathon continues to be a success at the University of Florida. 

In 2020 alone, our DM at UF Alumni collectively raised more than $82,000, and they continue to show their dedication to the organization to this day. We would not have become the most successful student-run philanthropy in the southeastern United States if it were not for the commitment of our Alumni. And while we may be DM at UF, our network of devoted, loyal Alumni spans all across the country. 

Dance Marathon Alumni formed as an official group in 2013 and has been going strong ever since. If you participated in Dance Marathon at UF in the past, you can become part of this group by signing up for a miracle or a legacy membership. Click the link here to renew your membership to join the Dance Marathon Alumni:

February Mini Marathons Recap

The month of March has just begun and five high schools have already hosted their Mini Marathons for Dance Marathon at the University of Florida this year. 

A Mini Marathon event is run by a high school or middle school that participates in DM, with the help of each of our Marathon Relations teams. While Mini Marathon season plays a crucial role in contributing to our final fundraising total, it is the commitment of each school to share this organization’s cause in their community in the hopes of ending childhood illness that creates the biggest impact. Whether through attending a Hospitality Night, hanging out with a Miracle Child or posting on social media to collect donations, each participant is creating a positive impact on Dance Marathon at UF. 

In a recap of DM at UF’s February 2021 Mini season, five high schools have collectively raised over $76,500 For The Kids! Olympic Heights High School raised $8,253.79, Jupiter High School raised $18,400.74, Vanguard High School at $5,267.72, East Ridge High School with $7,407.36, and finally Seminole Ridge High School raised $37,268.78. 

Due to the pandemic, each of these events were held virtually, showing that despite the obstacles, each of these Mini Marathons were able to achieve amazing totals for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. 

Marathon Relations (South) Captain Sophia Uribe felt that even through an unparalleled time like today, the message of DM at UF was felt in each and every Mini event. 

“I think the biggest takeaway is that no matter what platform the Mini is on, there are students that are still super passionate about the cause and are willing to spend a Friday or Saturday night to raise money For The Kids and for DM,” Uribe said. “They sit on Zoom for three hours just to hang out and fundraise. I think that really says a lot about how much they care and how impactful DM is at the high school level.” 

Vanguard High School’s Dance Marathon Overall Anissa Luciano acknowledged that even though planning fundraising events amidst the pandemic was a struggle, it allowed her and her team to get crafty and work together – resulting in raising even more money For The Kids than their previous year. 

“My committees and the people involved worked so hard the months leading up to the event and were so passionate about raising money for the Miracle Children,” Luciano said. “It really put into perspective how minuscule our modern day problems really are, and it made me appreciate the ability to connect with people in such a meaningful way.” 

Organizations such as DM at UF remind us of the influence we have in our communities. East Ridge High School Overall Kate Blythe reminisces, “It made me realize how important our childhood is in making us who we are today. I want these kids to have a chance to enjoy a great childhood too.”

As Mini Marathon season continues this spring, we share our sincerest thank you to all those involved at the high school level. Your impact can be seen in the day-to-day lives of our Miracle Children, in the research conducted to fight childhood illnesses and in the sense of hope you provide the Miracle Families. 

You are the future of Dance Marathon, and our future looks very bright.