The UF Dance Marathon: the chance to be able to dance for a significant cause. For the 19 years of their existence, the company raised more than $6.4 million in donations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Shands Hospital for Children at UF. Many of our lovely Alpha Chapter sisters have participated and continue to participate annually to help raise money for the kids. Participants would stay awake and stand for 26.2 hours and the Dance Marathon company symbolizes it as, “both the physical and emotional challenges the patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital experience every day.”
This experience, to some, have not only touched our sisters by helping children, but it has also brought them closer. Melanie Garcia, an Alpha Chapter sister and a first time participant, absolutely loved her experience. When asked about it, she said, “My experience was not at all what I expected. Standing for 26.2 hours was a lot more painful than I thought. The entire time I was in so much pain and cried a few times but when I saw that total of 1.5 million dollars raised it made it all worth it because I can go home and sleep for days
but these kids suffer with their disease every single day and we were able to help them. It definitely did bond me closer to my sisters. They were there every second they could be to offer piggy back rides, foot massages, food, and just overall morale. The sisters who I did it with were also there to offer support and just laughter and memories as we reached such an amazing goal.” Alpha Chapter’s sister, Stephanie Mandelblum, also had a great and physically challenging experience: “Dance Marathon was the most physically draining thing I’ve ever done, but every time I felt myself getting sore, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a healthy person standing for such an important cause. It was an honor to be participating as a senior with my sorority, Gamma Eta Sorority, Inc, and am so thankful to have had the support of all my sisters throughout the 26.2 hours. Dance Marathon goal is all about the kids, and without a doubt, after reaching a new record of 1.5 million dollars, they achieved that goal.”
The money raised goes towards a numerous amount of things: research, equipment, education for the patients including diversionary activities and items, hospital beds, and cribs. This year, the Dance Marathon raised $1,528,330.16 which gave the children of Shands that many more reasons to smile and have hope.
The bond between sisters have shown greatly during this event. When they wanted to quit, they were able to depend on their sisters for motivation and with their motivation came determination. And with that determination, came the joy of not only completing a 26.2 hour dance marathon, but also the elated happiness of being to help children in need.