United for Celebration

Written By: Leah Grobman

On a Wednesday afternoon, as students walked to class, picked up lunch and the Century Tower bell rang, Turlington Plaza transformed into Miracle Child Kinsey’s birthday party. Being at the heart of campus, there is no better place to celebrate a heart that beats so passionately for every member who is a part of Dance Marathon at the University of Florida.

While the normal school day rush hour was in full gear, this particular afternoon called for a bit more excitement than usual. The air buzzed with enthusiasm as the DM check-in area prepared for the party. New merchandise piled on top of tables, a wall of heart-shaped birthday notes layed upright for all to see and add to, and people began to crowd together. New and old members alike were even joined by others not affiliated with our organization to partake in the celebration; it seemed as if the entire study body was here to celebrate Kinsey.

Donning her birthday crown, sash and balloon wand, Kinsey beamed as she entered the plaza and soaked in her special setup. Everybody in attendance cheered upon her arrival, and old friends made throughout her time involved in DM rushed forward to greet her.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the afternoon was when Kinsey’s buddy, Rachel Nattis, gave her a heartwarming gift. The birthday girl opened up her colorful gift bag to see a homemade picture collage of the two girls in matching “besties” T-shirts and a Target gift card. The pure joy that radiated off of her was contagious.

Nattis, a sophomore Family Relations Captain, is thrilled for the year to come.

“I personally cannot wait to make such amazing memories with Kinsey this year,” she said. “I‘m literally so excited to go to every single event with her, especially Kinsey’s all time favorite one: Moralloween.”

She also mentioned that while Kinsey had a full day of birthday plans ahead, including going to her favorite restaurant — Olive Garden — and staying with her family at a nearby river cabin, she was most looking forward to her party at Dance Marathon check-ins. She even had been counting down the minutes to it for days prior. Another highlight of the afternoon was the Morale Team’s performance of the 2021 Line Dance, as many individuals giddily joined in to revisit the choreography.

To Ryan Beany, a junior Morale Captain, DM has made his time in college more enjoyable and himself more confident. Today, he just wants to help another have the same positive experience.

“Dance Marathon is like the heart that pumps my blood,” he said. “As a second-year Morale Captain, I am so excited to change so many students’ lives.”

To capture it all, the Multimedia Team played a major role in creating beautiful mementos to remember the day forever. Rachel Friedman, a senior Multimedia Captain, embraced a full circle moment as she celebrated Kinsey and memorialized the scene.

“Our motto is to capture miracles,” she said. “It’s really great to be here as a videographer because this is a great moment to remember forever — and a miracle to capture.”

One of the most remarkable parts of the afternoon, and of DM at UF as a whole, was the way in which every person involved, regardless of his or her role, played such a crucial part in making each moment so special.

In the words of Kinsey, “I don’t even know which part of this is my favorite! There’s just so much to love!”