The second you step onto a college campus, the first thing you're told is, "get involved!" I remember being at orientation and hearing the leaders talking about how getting involved on campus was life-changing, and I just started to space out because all I could think about was just getting through my freshman year, being so far away from home.
Little did I know, that I would get involved... and it would change my college experience entirely.
For. The. Kids.
It's a saying that's thrown around a lot within Dance Marathon.
Now for anyone who knows me, knows that I am truly awful at dancing. So when I tell people from home that I'm a part of something called "Dance Marathon," they just look at me in pure confusion.
Dance Marathon is so much more than just dancing around for 14 hours straight.
It's about creating a better life for the next generation of kids that might have to come through the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
We are here for the kids.
At the University of South Carolina, we dance for the kids at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. Our organization helps fund the Child Life program at PHCH.
Being a part of USCDM has honestly been life changing. My first two years at USC, I participated as a hero and went to Main Event, and had a great time. But when it came time for my junior year to start, I decided I was going to be more involved and applied to be on Morale.
Now, Morale is basically the hype man of DM. We create the infamous line dance, and basically jump around and yell all Main Event and encourage people to keep fundraising. It was the most fun I've had, and I made memories that I will never forget.
It's not every day that a group of college kids raise over one million dollars for a children's hospital.
But at Main Event in 2018... that's exactly what we did!
I honestly don't think I've ever "happy cried" as much as when we flipped that one million dollars on the stage.
Dance Marathon has truly changed my outlook on life and how I approach every day.
These kids that we help and get to spend time with are going through things that most can't even imagine. They're going through treatments that make them feel awful, their families spend 99% of their time in a hospital dealing with medical bills, and most stress than even a busy college student could compare to.
The kids that we raise money for are by far the strongest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. They've taught me that even if you're going through a horrible experience, there is always something positive to look for.
Every now and then, Dance Marathon staff members go to the hospital for "playroom visits." During these visits, we get to spend time with the kids and do crafts and play games with them. When I went on one of these visits, I got to spend time with a little boy named William who was getting treatment at PHCH.
He had just had surgery a few days prior, and his mom told us that he refused to get out of bed because he felt so horrible. However, when he found out Dance Marathon was coming to the hospital to hang out with everyone, he immediately wanted to get out of bed and come to the playroom.
Hearing his story broke my heart. No child, at any age, should have to sit in a hospital instead of being outside.
No child should have to worry about anything other than what color crayon they want to use to draw.
This is why we dance.
This is why we fundraise.
Dance Marathon has done nothing but bring positivity into my life: the friendships, the life lessons and the experiences. I am nothing but thankful for this organization, and for those orientation leaders that always tell you to get involved on campus, because I truly can not imagine my life without USCDM and everything it has given to my life.
So, long story short, get involved with something, because you never know what you might get out of it.
For more information about USC's Dance Marathon, visit my DM page to see more about this wonderful organization!