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FSU Dance Marathon Executive Director Shares Why Miracle Making is Her Passion

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Name: Alex Jones

Hometown: Wellington, FL

Year: Senior

Major: Media Communication Studies and Political Science

Relationship Status: Single

Courtesy of: Alex Jones

Her Campus (HC): If you could describe Dance Marathon in one sentence how would you do so?

Alex Jones (AJ): A year-long effort that culminates into an annual 40-hour event, where more than 2,000 students stay awake and on their feet to raise funds and awareness for our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and the FSU College of Medicine.

HC: How did you first get involved with Dance Marathon?

AJ: During my senior year of high school, myself, along with a group of friends put on a High School Dance Marathon with the help of Dance Marathon at UF. We raised over $20,000 after standing for eight hours. After that, I was completely hooked! When coming to FSU, I decided to experience our event as a dancer. I knew that I wanted this organization to be a large part of my FSU experience, so I applied for our CORE team as our High School Programs Coordinator. The rest is history.

HC:  What does your position entail?

AJ: The Executive Director position mostly comprises of managing our team. We have over 375 members including the Executive Board, CORE, Captains and Delegates.  It involves a large amount of problem solving, strategic financial planning and creative thinking. There are so many parts of our year-long movement, so myself along with the team are responsible for making sure everything is intentional, cause-oriented and strategic! It does require some visionary aspects! I set the goals and initiatives of the entire year, a few weeks after the previous Dance Marathon. My two favorite aspects of this job are leading our internal team meetings and connecting with our beneficiaries. I create agendas for our Executive Board meetings. However, we usually get caught up in brainstorming, and the excitement of all things DM, so it’s mostly just me listening to 17 people who are insanely passionate about this cause come up with the next big thing—which is so fun to be a part of. I maintain our relationships with Children’s Miracle Network, Miracle Network Dance Marathon, Florida State University and the FSU College of Medicine’s Pediatric Outreach Program.

HC: What is it about Dance Marathon that makes you so passionate?

AJ: There’s definitely two answers to this question. The first being the kids. The funds we raise save lives. There’s not really another way to describe it. There is nothing like a mother telling you “thank you” because the funds your organization raised paid for his medical trial that saved his life. We fund a lot of programs that deal with improving the experience of the child while going through treatment in the hospital. I am very passionate about the notion that every child deserves a childhood because sometimes when spending months or years in and out of the hospital, these kids are robbed of that right. We are able to provide child life specialists, art therapy programs, DVDs, video games and a 40-hour event where children aren’t labeled as “sick” but celebrated as rock stars. It is not just the families who are benefitting from our efforts—it’s also the students here at FSU. This cause can have a huge impact on us! We are able to bring students, from every reach of this campus, together under one roof where we stand for one single cause. I want to make sure there will always be a Dance Marathon at FSU, because it teaches over 3,000 students, every year, how much joy you can feel when you give back.  It’s a lesson most of us take with us to the world after graduation.

HC: You are such a busy gal, how do you manage your time between school, sorority and DM?

AJ: Coffee isn’t exactly great for you, but it’s my lifeline. Prioritizing and planning ahead are very important, too! Academics come first, but I usually get my studying and assignments done in weird times of the day. I have at least one to two meetings per day, but on Monday’s I am sitting in conference rooms for over eight hours at a time. I know on Saturday and Sunday I need to get everything done that’s due on Monday and Tuesday because there’s simply not enough time once the week starts. My sorority is time consuming, but it’s usually my safe haven. I enjoy being around Kappa Kappa Gamma at the end of the day, it recharges my batteries! The Executive Director from DM 2016 handed me my transition binder last March with a sticky note that read “Don’t forget to treat yo self!” Days are long, school is tough, but if you don’t take time for yourself and for your friends, you’ll burn out.

HC: Who do you look up to most, whether it be a celebrity or someone personal?

AJ: I have five advisors through CMN and FSU. I look up to all of them and they have taught me things I will take with me through the rest of my life. My close friends in Kappa and on DM Exec are the people that Amy Poehler was talking about when she said, “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” Yet, there’s something about how Katy Perry seems to be the truest version of herself. I respect that quality.

HC: What is the greatest thing you have learned since being on Dance Marathon exec?

AJ: Don’t sweat the small things! These children we raise funds for are either going through horrible treatments or are living with diseases that don’t have cures yet. You couldn’t find a parking spot this morning and were late to class? We didn’t hit our fundraising goal on an event? It’s okay. The world will keep going, you’ll make it to your next class, we’ll still raise money for sick kids. 

HC: What is the best way for someone to get involved with Dance Marathon?

AJ: Dancer Registration is open through our website, Dmfsu.org, until February 8th! I would recommend coming to the event, and experiencing the most inspiring 20 hours of your life. However, to be invited to dance requires the fundraisers to raise $300. This $300 is how we raise the funds that our local beneficiaries need in order to treat kids. There is also the option of volunteering! Volunteer registration opens February 12th and you will be able to choose a 5-hour shift where you can help us put on our event while experiencing it all!

Courtesy of: Alex Jones

HC: What kind of people do you look to hire to be apart of the FSU Dance Marathon Team?

AJ: Any job can be taught. I can confidently say, the passion and drive it takes to be on our team is unlike any other organization I’ve ever been a part of. As long as you can identify a strong “why” for Dance Marathon, and you have the time to give, that is what matters!

HC: What exciting Dance Marathon events are coming up?

AJ: Dance Marathon is less than one month away! From February 24 – 26, 2017 we will be at the Civic Center making miracles! Come join us! If dancing or volunteering isn’t quite for you but you still want to check it out, we offer floor passes for a small donation. We have completely revamped our marathon, so even if you have gone before, I would encourage you to take a peak of all the new things DM has in store.

HC: Where do you see yourself in five years in regards to employment, city, lifestyle, etc.?

AJ:  I hope to have a better answer for this after Dance Marathon is over. All I know is, I would love to live in a city like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago or anywhere else with young people trying to do big things! I couldn’t imagine my life without a job in non-profits. Dance Marathon has taught me that it is important to love what you do. In the future, I hope to work for a cause that makes a positive impact on the world. 

HC: Once you graduate, how do you plan on staying involved with the Children’s Miracle Network?

AJ: I can’t wait to be an Alumni Dancer! They have the best time re-living the college days and making miracles during our event. I will of course still fundraise for DM at FSU, this cause has a special place in my heart. Who knows, if the right job comes up, I wouldn’t mind CMN following me to the next step!

HC: What would you say to anyone who is thinking about participating in Dance Marathon next year?

AJ: Do it! If you let it, this cause will change your life. You have nothing to lose by giving back.

Hi I'm Jennifer! I love all things fashion, cats and coffee.
Her Campus at Florida State University.