Football Friday

One of the best parts about being a Gator is the opportunity to come together almost every Saturday of the fall semester to cheer on our football team in the Swamp. On Football Friday, we got to sit down with wide receiver Brandon Powell, #4, to hear his own Miracle Story.

Growing up in a big family, with many siblings, I learned the importance of taking care of and serving others. My family is my motivation to be the best that I can be. My younger brother Brad is a huge motivation of mine. As a baby, Brad was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Brad is one of the most loving, kind and charismatic individuals that I have ever met. He takes on life with a genuine smile and a warm hug no matter what obstacles stand in his way. He doesn’t care about anyone’s negativity or unkindness, instead he greets them with a grin and continues on with his day. Brad’s courage and fearlessness has taught me a lot about the game of life. His tenacity and positive spirit in every situation motivates me to work hard in school and all that I do. I am proud to be his big brother.”

– Vicki Arguelles


Multi-year Dancer Q&A

Four-year Dancers embody the passion and devotion that encourages all of us who remain at the University of Florida to #RedefineTomorrow. At the end of their time at UF they will have danced for a total of 104.8 hours For The Kids, both an honor and outstanding accomplishment. For this #ThrowbackThursday, we asked a soon to be four-year Dancer to reflect on her years with Dance Marathon at the University of Florida.

  1. What is your name and how did you first get involved in Dance Marathon at UF?

My name is Taylor Hupp. Dance Marathon was the first UF event I experienced after I was admitted as a student. I attended the Orange and Blue Debut game when I was a senior in high school, which was coincidentally the same weekend as DM. I had some friends who were on Staff take me onto the floor, and it was one of the coolest experiences I could have ever asked for to begin my journey as a UF student.

  1. What have been some of your favorite memories over your years of dancing?

Some of my favorite memories are the people I met throughout my years of dancing. While on the floor, it is so easy to jump right in and talk to many people who are all in the same position as you. Whether it is someone next to you at a meal, or just a friendly face trying to help you make it through the last couple of hours, the sense of camaraderie is one of my favorite things about DM. I also got to meet Miss America last year who is a sorority sister, so that was really cool.

  1. What are you looking forward to most for your last Dance Marathon?

Besides an extra swim / shower shift (kidding!), I am most looking forward to pushing myself to raise the most I ever have this year. Although I will miss DM weekend once I am finished, I am very excited to finish off my senior year knowing I have contributed to such an incredible cause every year in college. I also really don’t think it hurts as much when you know you won’t be able to do it again, so that is a bonus as well.

  1. What motivates you to keep dancing each year?

Every day, I am so incredibly fortunate to wake up and go to school, see my friends, go to the gym, etc. While college may be very difficult academically, it is nothing compared to what these children endure every day of their lives. If I can stand for 26.2 hours to help take years of suffering away from their lives, I would do it every day if I could. Dance Marathon always puts my good fortune into perspective for me, and it is an extremely humbling experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  1. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in your years of dancing?

The funniest thing that has happened to me was during my Freshman year when me and my roommate were Dancers together. Her friend brought her a donut in the morning, and she just began bawling her eyes out because she was so thankful. We were delirious and couldn’t stop laughing about it for weeks.

  1. How has Dance Marathon affected your experience as a student at the University of Florida?

Dance Marathon has allowed me to become part of something bigger than myself and join a community on campus with one common, incredible goal. It creates a greater purpose for every student involved, and it not only makes me proud to be a Gator, but also a FTK Gator.


Why UF? Wednesday

To find a college that accommodates all of one’s wishes and desires is a difficult task, but the University of Florida has proven to be an institution that stands out for a multitude of reasons. With a campus that serves over 50,000 students, it is evident that the UF’s audience continues to grow and be supported by potential new students, current students and their families, and the proud alumni. As UF promotes diversity through their student body, organizations and opportunities available, students have the ability and are encouraged to find who they are, what they stand for, and surround themselves with the most innovative movers and shakers of the 21st century.

While students have their own reasons for choosing the University of Florida, they have also found their homes and secret getaways throughout the 2000 acres on campus and within the nooks and crannies of the 900 different buildings located throughout the area. These locations resonate with the rest of the student body and allow the campus to feel as if the Gainesville area is their own little slice of heaven, amongst the hectic nature of the college environment.

Some students shared their favorite places on campus include:

Hospitality Overall, Allison Jones has a distinct location that encapsulates the University of Florida to a tee. Allison said, “My favorite place is Row 90 of the Student Section in Ben Hill Griffin, particularly during sunset. Before the sunset, you can look around at the top of the stadium and receive a 360 degree, bird’s eye view of campus, with Century Tower peeking out through the trees and the distinct sound of the bells chiming in the distance. As the sun is going down, a blue and orange hue is apparent throughout the sky and serves to be a constant reminder of what it feels like to be a part of the Gator Nation.”  

When not giving tours, Jonathan Frish a Florida Cicerone, has a special place in mind that he deems to be the perfect setting in the UF area. He goes ahead and says, “My favorite place at UF would definitely be this huge, glorious tree in between Farrior Hall in the Murphree Area. While it’s an awesome tree to marvel at and study by, I managed to walk about twenty miles around this tree in one week during my sophomore year, while campaigning for a Student Government election. That tree has since stood as a symbol of persevering through challenges and dedicating as much effort as necessary to make this university great.”

As the Campus Diplomats try to individualize the experiences of the entire student body, each Campus Dip has made UF their own through their own favorite locations on campus. Brooke Kaplan, a junior in the organization stated that her favorite place to be on campus is Lake Alice. Brooke mentioned, “While there I can escape from the rigors of school and just appreciate the nature and the beauty that comes with the Gainesville area that can be overlooked if we focus too much on the stresses of college.”

The Executive Director of Project Makeover, Chelsea Carrasquillo states that the Plaza of the Americas is her favorite place to be on campus. She says, “I love the Plaza of the Americas because it’s at the heart of campus and the Plaza is surrounded by nature and greenery. It is always enjoyable to take a study break from Library West by walking out to the plaza, eno-ing with friends, or just enjoying a Starbucks coffee in the newly-renovated area of campus.”

A Family Youth and Consumer Sciences Professor, Kate Fletcher eloquently voiced her opinion of the best place on UF’s campus with the Baughman Center. Professor Fletcher said, “It’s where me and my husband, Jared, got married. It only fits around 98 people, but it’s such a  beautiful place of peace, reflection, tranquility, and light. The story behind the man who it is named after could make me cry right now and you need to look it up and read about him. The man made it to create a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of life.”

While everyone has their different places that stick out and make the university feel like home, the population of the University of Florida come together because they all have found their place within the Gator Nation.

-Camber Pecor

How Will You #RedefineTomorrow?

We asked some students and faculty today, and this is how they took a pledge to redefine tomorrow.

Jack DeLoach, Assistant Director of Mini Marathon Coordination for the Morale Team, stood in Turlington Plaza today offering free hugs to students passing by.

He gave around 320 hugs today.

“I redefine tomorrow by making someone smile. I may not change the whole world, but I can change their world,” DeLoach said.

DeLoach said he wanted to brighten up today and this week as much as possible with the Richard Spencer event being held on Thursday.

“It’s a hard week for everyone,” Deloach said. “There have been a lot of long hugs today, so I think people need them right now.”

President Kent Fuchs made an appearance in Turlington today. He wrote on his dry erase board: “I will redefine tomorrow by spreading more love.” The president also took advantage of a free hug from DeLoach and spoke with students in the plaza. Fuchs congratulated Dance Marathon students on their event Go Greater that he attended.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” Fuchs told Haley Schavemaker who is the Marathon Relations Overall Director. “You’re doing amazing things.”

“So many people, involved in DM or not, were excited to see him supporting Dance Marathon in the plaza today,” Schavemaker said.

Bailey Boulter, a graduate student and Family Relations Captain, said she will redefine tomorrow by doing little things to brighten miracle children’s days like letting Bailey Abbott use her polaroid camera.

“It’s awesome to see the smallest things we do being appreciated by the families and the miracle children,” Boulter said.

Emily Boulter joined her sister Bailey to write on the dry erase board. The sisters wrote that they would redefine tomorrow by spreading love to the families. Bailey said she will spread love to the families by reminding them that she will always be there for them, thinking of them and fighting for them.

So, now think to yourself, how will you #RedefineTomorrow?

– Annie Boersma














Miracle Story Monday

We kick off Dance Week by reminding you of our cause with a Miracle Story from Kalee Brook.

Kalee Brook is a post-grad dietetics student here at the University of Florida. Kalee took some time to share her Miracle story with us as both a UF student and a member of one of our Miracle Families. “I’ve had the privilege of experiencing Dance Marathon from the bottom up. I started out as a Staffer for the Morale team, a Delegate, and for the past several years, a Family Relations Captain. I first handedly know the hard work and fundraising that goes into making DM such a success and on the other side of the spectrum I’m one of the Miracle Families and know how much a difference that fundraising has on the lives of patients and families. I’ve been treated at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals now for the bulk of my life. I was seen locally growing up at the children’s hospital back home and was transferred to Shands after my condition deteriorated. I was paired up with a team of specialists who changed my life. I was diagnosed with a slew of autoimmune related disorders including Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Gastroparesis, Vasculitis, and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.  My one doctor refers to it as a having a ‘systemically overactive’ immune system because my body lacks the ability to differentiate which cells are mine and which are foreign. I have a port to manage infusions and a permanent feeding tube for the bulk of my nutrition. It’s overwhelming at times but I think back to where I was when I was first transferred and to all that I’ve been able to accomplish since and feel so blessed. Dance Marathon changes the lives of patients and families because it provides research funding for better treatment options and funds equipment, beds for parents to sleep in next to their children, Arts and Medicine, and Child Life. Thanks to the support I have received at UF Health at Shands, I was able to graduate college and hope to have an impact similar to the one health care providers have had on my life.”

Kalee then went on to explain exactly why she feels so called to participate in Dance Marathon at the University of Florida. “I remember the awful sinking feeling in my stomach that I got when I realized I was running out of treatment options. I look back on the times my mom would get emotional because I was in so much pain and we felt so helpless. The late nights I stay up getting sick. That’s why I DM- so no other patient or family has to experience that kind of feeling. I remember the first time I shared my story on a DM stage. I was terrified of putting into words some of the lowest, most vulnerable parts of my journey. I looked out and the crowd had their arms outstretched into the CMN balloon shape, a standing ‘O’.  The support I got afterwards- it’s hard to explain what it meant to me. It was when I realized something good is coming out of my struggles, that I can do something about all this. DM gives me hope for a better tomorrow and that’s quite honestly one of the most powerful things you can possibly provide.”

– Jenna Theofiledes and Ashley Norus

What makes DM at UF different from other schools?

Gainesville, Florida is known for a few important things. For one, it’s home to the University of Florida and over 50,000 thriving students. It’s known for Gator Football, Tim Tebow and Saturdays in the Swamp. It’s known for the incredible care children receive at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, and most importantly, it’s known for being home to the most successful student-run philanthropy in the southeastern United States: Dance Marathon at UF.

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida isn’t just a yearlong philanthropy, it’s a movement that involves 19 Overall Directors, 386 Captains, 174 Emerging Leaders, 150 partners, 6,861 fundraisers and over 43,746 total donations. It has spread campus-wide, intertwining organizations, students, faculty, community members and highlights the very core of the heart of the Gator nation.

For the last 22 years, Dance Marathon at the University of Florida has raised more than 12.4 million dollars for the kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital–making it the number two DM program in the whole country (and world). Although Dance Marathon is spread among campuses across the country, at the University of Florida, it’s something special that truly brings us all together.

DM is different at UF than anywhere else because of our close proximity to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Students at UF have the unique opportunity to experience and witness first-hand exactly how profoundly DM impacts the lives of the children at the hospital. We are so lucky to have Shands within walking distance from campus, enabling students to spend time volunteering, working and visiting the hospital.

Students are encouraged to go on hospital tours, where they get to visit the different pediatric floors, interact with children who are patients at Shands, talk to doctors and nurses and see the life-saving equipment donated by the Children’s Miracle Network. UF students get to see miracle children and their families at events in Gainesville, spend time with them and get to put names and faces to a cause that so many people are so dedicated to. It’s easy to be motivated to fundraise for a cause you can directly see who is benefitting from, and because of Shands proximity to UF, it gives students the ability to experience the impact they are making. Seeing the different life-saving machines with the little red CMN stickers on them, seeing the clean, bright, cheery entrance and new neonatal unit that were only made possible by donations raised by Dance Marathon are ways to inspire students to keep fundraising and stay involved in Dance Marathon.

Dance Marathon at the University of Florida is unlike anywhere else. It’s a contagious feeling of involvement and giving that students do because they want to, not because they have to. DM at UF is something bigger than each individual student or individual organization or individual team. DM at UF is a movement of people coming together to fight for children who are too sick to fight for themselves. At the end of the 26.2 hours when everyone is exhausted, sore, and drained, they will raise the numbers up with the fundraising total and every individual who contributed to those numbers will have hearts bursting with pride and joy at the incredible miracles made by students who are doing their best to make a difference for the most amazing children.

-Ashleigh B.

2017 DM Resolutions


  1. ‘Get fit & healthy’
    Get your fitness on! Walk to class, run with friends and save some time to exercise daily so that you’re prepared to stand for 26.2 hours! Staying fit and healthy will keep you energized to stand and fight for those who can’t. (Sign up for FT5K to work on this resolution!
  2. ‘Live life to the fullest’

People feel happiest when they’re spreading happiness to others. Focus on loving those around you and encouraging a positive, uplifting atmosphere. Enjoying life to the fullest means appreciating the small things, recognizing the unique and special UF community that we have and remembering that it is far better to give than to receive.

  1. ‘Spend less, save more’

This popular resolution will help you save money and fundraise for DM! Skip out on that $5 Starbucks order and donate to a friend’s page. Think about unnecessary purchases, and how you can be more resourceful. Every dollar can help make a difference in the lives of our miracle children. Think FTK!

4. ‘Spend more time with family and friends’

Grab dinner with friends at hospitality nights and come up with fun fundraising incentives! Talk with your family and loved ones about your passions, and why DM is important to you. Enjoy time with your friends and family, and spend time getting to know the miracle families – you’ll make forever friendships here.

5. ‘Get organized’

Organize important dates, email templates, letters, fundraising techniques and a Dance Marathon survival kit so that you can make the most of the event that is always much closer than you think! Organization is the key to a stress-free 2017… and one resolution that can help foster an exciting, encouraging, impactful Dance Marathon at the University of Florida!

Happy New Year, and good luck, Gators!

-Casey McLean

How, exactly, can I raise money for DM?

Fundraising for Dance Marathon at UF is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Reaching your goal after a long year of raising money is a feeling that you will keep with you forever. But sometimes, it can be hard to think of new and innovative ways to raise money! Here are bunches of fun and different ways you can help raise money FTK:

  1. Starting off on the easier spectrum would be to call family and friends! By explaining what you are doing and where the money is going, they will understand how great this philanthropy is and want to help you raise money. Some key phrases you might want to tell them are:

“All of the money we raise through DM at UF goes straight toward new state-of-the-art medical equipment, enhancements for the children’s stay more comfortable, and funding for research grants and educational programs.”

“Every dollar helps create miracles for the kids.”

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while! Old teachers and friends are a great resource for donations.

2. Another great way to earn money quickly is through Venmo requests! Choose any small amount ($2.62 is great because symbolizes the hours of DM) and simply send Venmo requests to your friends. People are more likely to donate if they see a small number, but if you send it to a lot of people, the numbers add up!

3. Have a special hobby? Use that to your advantage! Whether it is holding a bake sale (who doesn’t love cookies or cake pops?) or making dream catchers, sell what you make For The Kids! Post about what you are selling on social media to make sure the word gets out and you can reach a wider audience.

4. My favorite idea for raising money is to have an incentive. Pick something funny to do such as wear a onesie to class all day, post old embarrassing pictures of yourself, or if you’re adventurous, dye your hair if you reach your goal within a time frame. Make a social media post announcing to your friends and family that if you reach your goal, you will have to carry out the incentive!

Having trouble thinking of more ideas? Sit and brainstorm with a few friends to come up with new ways! There are no limits on the way you can fundraise for Dance Marathon.

-Paris Olkes

Forever For The Kids

Susannah Schrimscher Collins’ journey with Dance Marathon began her freshman year, selling cookies in Turlington Plaza on campus to raise money for her Dancer spot. One could say that her journey truly began eight years prior, as she witnessed her sister participate in Dance Marathon while she attended the University of Florida. While Suzy was in middle school, she watched her sister’s college experience be transformed by Dance Marathon. From then on, Suzy envisioned becoming a part of the organization herself.

Suzy served Dance Marathon as a Dancer for 2 years, a Dancer Relations Captain for 1 year, and the Dancer Relations Overall Director for 1 year. When reflecting on her years in college, Suzy confides that Dance Marathon brought her some of her most cherished friendships & memories. As it does for many others, DM instilled within her time in college a unique purpose for which she is forever grateful.

When on her first tour of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, Suzy’s passion for DM blossomed as she was able to see firsthand the direct impact Dance Marathon had on the lives of the children and families it served. For her, Dance Marathon encompassed and reflected her own passions and values and she could not pass up the opportunity to be a part of it.

“Dance Marathon taught me that change takes action, and that action begins with us. Dance Marathon taught me that unity comes when we connect over something greater than ourselves and to accomplish something great, we have to work together. Dance Marathon taught me that we can each use our unique gifts to bless someone else instead of simply using them for ourselves.”

Suzy’s favorite memories are mostly comprised of the moments she was able to spend with one of the Miracle families and her Dancer Relations team. All of the laughs and tears shared with her team are testaments to the value of each and every hour she devoted to Dance Marathon.

“If I could tell any UF student one thing, it would be to dive into Dance Marathon and give it all you can. It will make your time at UF one of the most meaningful experiences of your life.”

Graduates like Suzy continue to give back by joining Dance Marathon at UF Alumni. Click here to learn more and join today.

Transform Today 2016

How Has Dance Marathon at the University of Florida Transformed You?



“Dance Marathon has helped me realize the utmost importance of helping others in our lifetime. This year being an Overall has given me the opportunity to make miracles happen For The Kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital every day. I used to volunteer in the hospital, and I used to think of it as a weekly thing, but because of Dance Marathon, I become not just support, but also an advocate for these children and their families.” – Joey Whelihan, Recruitment Overall


Assistant Director

“DM has given me a new outlook on life where I appreciate things I otherwise may have taken for granted. It has taught me that when a group of people come together for an important cause, anything is possible. Most importantly it has shown me that miracles are possible and I am so lucky that DM has given me the opportunity to help make them happen.” -Madison Eouse Assistant Director of Special Tasks for Morale



“I live each day with the same quote in the back of my head, “One day we will dance in celebration, until then, we will dance for a cure.” Since becoming a part of Dance Marathon, I wake up each day with a new perspective on life knowing that I am making a difference by being a part of such an amazing cause. It is not how much you do, but how much love you give with what you do. To have the ability to even effect one family’s life through this philanthropic event makes my life more fulfilled. Dance Marathon has taught me to not be selfish, but to walk around with open arms and hands helping everyone I come in contact with. The miracle children have given me a renewed reason to live and motivate me to always have a smile on my face. Overall, Dance Marathon has transformed me into a more selfless, devoted individual, and I hope it continues to impact the lives of individuals worldwide.” – Alyssa DiMauro, Fundraising Captain

“Dance Marathon was the first event that I participated in once I got to UF. Being a delegate helped me become a better leader and helped me become more passionate about philanthropy. Meeting kids like Owen makes me feel great that our work makes a difference in the kids’ lives.” – Steven Paek, Delegate

“Not getting involved with DM last year was one of my biggest regrets because all I ever heard was how incredible it was. This year I was so excited to becoming a part of the Emerging Leaders Program and already it has surpassed my greatest expectations. These children are absolutely incredible, and really do look up to us in every way possible. Some don’t even know we’re saving their lives, but they’re just happy to have someone to play with. Dance Marathon has already impacted me so much and I am so lucky to go to a school that takes it so seriously and has such a great passion for Children’s Miracle Network.” – Garett Scott, ELP



“DM means getting a chance to make a difference. As a dancer last year, I was able to meet a miracle child who changed my whole outlook on life. As she passed a ball back and forth, she stopped and looked at me for a moment and then hugged me and said thank you. In that moment I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my life. DM has made me so appreciative of everything life has given me and makes me want to strive to be the best person I can be.” – Emily DiNardi, Dancer
In the next 26.2 hours, we are trying to raise $262,000 For The Kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital! If you’d like to contribute to our incredible cause, visit