Leading a New Legacy: The First Fall Kickoff Event

Written By: Ashley Hearn

As people flowed onto Flavet Field, the energy swelled, and with more people came more passion. Not even a mask could hide the evidence of radiant smiles. There was so much to do, so many people to meet. It was the first Fall Kickoff Event, and it was the perfect way to start the Dance Marathon at the University of Florida 2021-2022 year.

In the past, Transform Today has fostered a sense of excitement for the year ahead. This year, that feeling arrived early. With so many restrictions and plans up in the air throughout the past year, the chance to finally gather all together as an organization was highly anticipated.

“This is a dream come true for the entire Overall Team,” said Productions Overall Director Sofi Miret. “To see this actually happen is unreal.” 

The evening was an opportunity unlike any offered in the past — an event purely focused on togetherness.

“We wanted an event after Captains, ELPs and Ambassadors were chosen, but right before Transform Today to bond everyone,” Miret said. 

The first annual Fall Kickoff event delivered live music from local bands, appearances from Miracle Families and food from two vendors. The event’s packed agenda transformed Flavet Field into a space for celebration of the year to come. 

Throughout the night, Miracle Children swayed to the beat of the music, and made for the perfect backup dancers. They first accompanied a local Gainesville band, The Late Night Losers. After performing at last years Main Event, many people were enthusiastic about the bands return. Following this performance, another local band, Glass House Point, made their Dance Marathon at UF debut. 

In between the acts, many satisfied their hunger by visiting the Hospitality Team tent where Assistant Directors served dozens of pizzas donated by Domino’s. After a savory slice, a sea of people joined the winding B’z Gelati line to purchase a refreshing ice cream-gelato treat.

Over good food and even better conversation, relationships flourished. Emerging Leaders met their Units, Family Relations Captains united with their Miracle Families and Miracle Children performed their talents. It was a memorable day of firsts.

To Carley Smith, a Family Relations Assistant Director, the Fall Kickoff was especially meaningful. 

“This event was created to introduce the entire Dance Marathon community to the families, and to each other and just to the purpose of what DM is all about,” she said.

The lines to indulge in B’z Gelati and Domino’s never truly died down. On stage, the bands moved the crowd to its feet. Cheers erupted throughout the event as the Merchandise Team successfully sold out items from the Kids Collection drop. The atmosphere was electric. 

While we had the opportunity to enjoy food, live music and the presence of each other, we must remember that this is a luxury. We got the chance to interact and embrace the moment, a chance that we often take for granted. 

The Fall Kickoff was a time to connect with the cause and with the people fighting for it, and we will use this unity as momentum as we inch closer to Transform Today on Oct. 26 – 27 — and as the year continues. 
If anything, the first Fall Kickoff Event can be best represented by the very children DM at UF will continue to fight for. Miracle Child Kinsey closed out the night by singing the High School Musical song “We’re All In This Together,” and at this inaugural event, that proved to be true.