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.