A Love Letter to Dance Marathon

Dear Dance Marathon,

I don’t know where to begin expressing how grateful I am for you as an organization, for your purpose and for the people you bring together.

I’m currently sitting outside on Landis Green reflecting on what we accomplished as an organization today. I just witnessed the dramatic reveal for Florida Statement, where in just 26.2 hours, we raised over $400,000 for the kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville.

As a community, we aim to raise money and awareness for children with pediatric illness and injury at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. One day we hope to dance in celebration, but until then, we have vowed to dance until there is a cure for every child. Raising this much money is not easy, but it is so worth it. I can assure you there is no other organization I would stand outside in 30-degree weather for while asking people for money. But for you, Dance Marathon, I would do anything.

Being a part of the Dance Marathon internal team has truly shaped my college experience at Florida State. Last year, as a freshman, I served as a High School Programs Captain and was so inspired that I decided to step up and become a coordinator this year. However, my experience with Dance Marathon started as a freshman in high school, when I helped start my own high school’s Dance Marathon. Over these past 6 years, I’ve fallen in love with everything this organization stands for. I’m sure my friends and family have gotten tired of me constantly bringing up Dance Marathon and running to meetings almost every day, but if I could dedicate every second of my day to help the kids, I would.

There are endless things I love about you, Dance Marathon:

You support the greatest cause.

You’ve brought me my best friends.

You’ve given me role models who I’ll look up to for the rest of my life.

You’ve taught me hard lessons about growth, leadership and accountability.

You make a direct and important impact on our community.

You bring our campus together and unite us under one cause despite our differences.

You’ve pushed me way past my comfort zone.

You’ve allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself.

You’ve given me my favorite college memories (and high school memories!)

You’ve introduced me to the most beautiful children and miracle families.

Most importantly, Dance Marathon, you put college into perspective. There are days when I struggle to get out of bed because life can get so stressful and all-consuming. But on those days, I think about the kids at Shands Children’s Hospital and in hospital beds around the country who dream of being given the opportunities that I have every day. I have the ability to walk around campus, to eat yummy foods, to attend stimulating classes and to socialize with friends whenever and wherever I want. Instead, these children are stuck inside the confines of a hospital praying for a miracle to happen.

I feel so blessed to have found this organization and to be a part of the team who works tirelessly to bring miracles to these children. It truly is so special to see what we continue to accomplish for the kids year after year.

So, dear Dance Marathon - thank you for giving all of us something to fight for. I promise you that I will continue to fight forever.

All photos courtesy of Katherine Gibson.

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