What $2.2 Million Can Buy Thanks To Dance Marathon At FSU

What $2.2 Million Can Buy Thanks To Dance Marathon At FSU

FSU raised a record-breaking $2.2 Million 'For The Kids' which will go towards Children's Miracle Networks Hospitals and Gadsden County children.


Dance Marathon at Florida State University is not just a weekend event full of fun activities, it is a yearlong movement where students vow to fundraise money for those impacted by pediatric illness and injury and stand for those that can't. Since September, and even prior to that, myself and so many others across FSU's campus have been fundraising for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and FSU College of Medicine Outreach Programs. This money and the number that represents it is much more than a total reveal, or a picture that is used to promote the cause around campus. This dollar amount is going towards saving lives, making miracles, and creating comfort for those families that are stuck at Shands or other Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

Over winter break, Dance Marathon at FSU hosted an incentive-based challenge for its members: If you raise $100 or more in a specific 10 day period over inter break you were able to go tour the place where all the miracles are made, Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. I was fortunate enough to complete the challenge and go for my tour in early January. This experience was truly life changing as I walked through this hospital seeing firsthand the impact I am making by raising money. Not only was I touched by the brave patients I saw confined to the walls of the hospital, some even stuck in their beds, but I was touched by their families.

For those of you that have never been to Shands, it is unlike any hospital you have ever been to previously. The floors are themed, it is extremely kid-friendly, and the staff is always happy and helpful. I'm so thankful I have never had to have an experience at Shands or another children's hospital, however, if I had to- this is the place I'd want to be. Aside from the fact that they have some of the best-trained doctors and professionals, they take care of the families just as well as they take care of their patients. From hearing various families tell their stories & factoring in plain old common sense- it's clear that when you have to head to the hospital, you normally don't have much time to prepare. That is why Children's Miracle Network helps Shands stock its walls with games, DVDs, video game consoles, and even washing machines/dryers. The money that FSU raises at Dance Marathon goes towards paying for things like this; the little things that keep the families covered when they have approximately five minutes to pack and start driving to the hospital and forget some of the essentials. It is also hard, as a parent or sibling, to think of yourself in an emergency situation like this. Therefore, Shands also has adult movies and things to keep the families entertained as they will stay with their poor child & likely not be prepared for the stay themselves.

Though Dance Marathon at FSU mainly hypes up Children's Miracle Network, we also shine a light on another beneficiary of our marathon that receives half of the proceeds, FSU College of Medicine Pediatric Outreach Programs. These programs help underprivileged kids in Gadsden County receive health care through school, due to the fact that this area is overwhelmingly poor and most inhabitants of Gadsden cannot afford normal healthcare.

FSU Splits their total directly in half and donates one portion to CMN hospitals and the other to the outreach programs. So, the big question is... what do these dollars fund? Our donors and fundraising efforts are able to fund ALL SORTS of things and anything in a CMN hospital that was funded by Dance Marathon has a miracle balloon sticker somewhere on it. Some things that Dance Marathon funds are Hospital beds, fish tanks, hospital equipment, carts to hold medicine and nurses medical tools, Child Life Specialists, in-hospital entertainment, Nurses for Gadsden County schools, equipment for these nurses to have an essentially fully running doctors office, and so much more.

So to our donors, I hope this gives you a piece of mind after donating to help benefit kids and families you do not know. Without you, we would not have been able to raise $2.2 Million, make 2.2 Million miracles, or continue to break past records and make even more miracles and money annually. If there are any more questions, please feel free to check out the UF Health Shands website. For those of you that missed out this year, I highly encourage you to keep your eye out for dancer registration dates for Dance Marathon 2020, and even internal applications on our website.

Hope to see y'all next year!! This is High School Programs Captain, Ilana, signing off. Goodnight Dance Marathon at FSU 2019.

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The Problem With Toms

Is One- For- One sustainable?

We all love our cute and trendy Tom's shoes, the very basic but versatile canvas shoes, with dozens of patterns ranging from stripes, dots, and even cats- Americans love these seemingly charitable shoes. With the company's worth estimated at $625 million, it is easy to see that we love products that make us feel good about ourselves.

But just how much "good" are we actually doing? Tom's famous "one for one" model may seem like a innovative idea, but it has been harshly criticized by economists, who claim this model of donation could actually cause harm to countries receiving the donations.

The idea is that donations from other countries can do major harm to local economy; for example, a local store owner who sells and repairs shoes has fewer sales because his customers were given free shoes from Tom's, which can create a dangerous dependence on foreign aid.

In fact, a study done in El Salvador in 2016 performed by professor Bruce Wydick of San Francisco proved Tom's shoes had no positive impact on foot health, shoe ownership (old shoes were just thrown away), or even self- esteem.

This may sound selfish, of course we want to help developing countries with much needed supplies, but rather than outright giving them these products, we need to assist them in stimulating growth of their local economies to become financially independent and prosperous without foreign aid.

Since Tom's shoes tend to be directed into the most poverty- stricken areas, we realize that shoes are probably not the first thing we ought to worry about for these recipients, you can not eat shoes, nor can you cure a treatable disease with a pair of canvas loafers.

Of course Founder Blake Mycoskie means well, as a person he has proved to be caring and charitable, but his so called "charity" has no significant impact on poverty.

Not only is this model ineffective in ending the cycle of poverty abroad, but quite frankly consumers are being duped. Tom's shoes, made of only rubber and canvas, sometimes suede material, cost $9 to make. Let me repeat myself, $9. Meanwhile we pay anywhere from $44- $150 for these kicks. So even if we were to buy two pairs, one for us, and one for an underprivileged child in Ghana, we may only spend $20- $25 for the shoes and shipping costs.

If you're feeling charitable, one of the best options you can choose is actually donating money. None of us want to hear that- but the reality is developing countries need clean water, food, and access to education and healthcare more than they need a pair of shoes.

Cover Image Credit: Toms

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My Whole Life Was Put In Perspective In 2 Hours

Thank you Penn State THON, for teaching all of us how lucky we are to have our own lives.


It's a Monday and I am functioning on 15-16 hours of sleep distributed across 3 nights. Yet, I feel the most awakened I have ever felt in my life.


As a Penn State student, I have absolute privilege of joining tens of thousands of other students to be a part of Penn State THON, a 46-hour dance marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy event in the world that raises over $10 million for childhood cancer. I just attended for my second time and agreed to dance for 23 hours, nearly 10 more hours than I had the previous year.

I was on crutches from a severe hip injury so I seemed a little crazy to agree to dance for that long. Maybe I was. I was still determined to attend, however, because "everyone is going" and "I'd be missing out" and "it's so much fun." Probably not the best rationales for attending an event for childhood cancer (in fact, they were pretty selfish rationales), but nonetheless I decided to go and spent time with two different clubs that raised money for childhood cancer.

In the days (and weeks and months) leading up to THON, I complained about my hip problem. I complained a lot. The biggest burden in the world was having to function on crutches and deal with pain and not be able to run at track meets and the entire world had some vendetta against me and God hated me more than anyone else on this planet. It was true that my life was difficult at this moment. The least fortunate people still hate excruciating pain and struggling to live their everyday lives from the amounts of pain.

But in my own opinion, nothing was more difficult than the life I was living and I was the most burdened person on planet Earth.

Yet I attended THON and stayed as long as I had committed to staying. Twenty-three hours. However, it wasn't the 21st and 22nd hour for me (and the 44th and 45th hour for the entire event) that my entire life was put into perspective.

In my 21st and 22nd hour there, when my enjoyment seemed to be replaced with an aching and tired hip, families came up to speak about why we were there (childhood cancer) and unveil the unfortunate truth (many children lose their battles). Families spoke about losing their children to such a terrible disease, or worrying that one day their children will not wake up in the morning, or have a vibrant child whose life was turned upside-down with a single statement. In that time, I gained an appreciation for the preciousness and fragility of my own life, for the value of every time my heart beats, for the worth of every time I take a breath. And in my nineteen years of life, I never once worried that a single breath would be my very last.

Of course, I wasn't oblivious to the idea that children are diagnosed with cancer and sometimes lose their battle. But something about seeing the grieving families, of seeing continuous faces of lost children who never turned double-digits or begged that they "didn't want to die." In those two hours, reality touched me, perhaps with a harder and more brutal hit than ever before. And it made the pain I was feeling not so bad. Because every moment of my life (and all of our lives) is a gift, whether we have hip pain or no hip pain, sadness or no sadness, motivation or no motivation to live it out to the fullest. And for that experience, I am thankful to have my life, and my family members have theirs, and so do my friends, and so do the people on my college campus, on the street, in the world.

I might have trouble going shopping for myself, traveling to class (or really anywhere), or rolling over in my sleep at night. But at least I know that this may not be my last night on Earth. At least I know that even if I'm struggling to go to bed from the pain I'm feeling, I can almost guarantee that I will wake up tomorrow. I will one day feel better. I will survive.

Sometimes, we fail a test, lose a game, or get dumped by our significant others. The world is crumbling and we feel like failures. We don't feel that we can survive another day, because life doesn't seem worth living anymore. It's true that these challenges are completely valid and they completely suck. But we need to fight for triumph over these challenges. We don't need to fight for our own lives. These times will pass. We will survive.

And for everyone, there are days that just don't please us. We can't wake up, we can't function throughout the day, worry strangles us with its ugly fist and we feel like life isn't worth it. And we are allowed to feel that way. I have felt that way in the past and will probably feel as such in the future. But we have to remember that many of us have been around for 10, 13, 18, 20, 21, or 25 years and survived 100% of those days. At least we don't have a 10% chance of surviving our miserable days. We will survive.

So as I, along with thousands of others saw the preciousness of our lives, we came to realize in two hours how lucky we are to live and fight for those who struggle to live.

And in two hours, my whole life was put into perspective.

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