I will never forget that feeling: I had been awake and standing for 28 hours, my hair was a mess, and had eaten the minimum amount it would take to keep myself going. I stood there in a dark room full of thousands of people, the only light coming from the neon wristbands and a spotlight shining on the stage. A row of 21 people stood across the stage holding the total amount that Dance Marathon at FSU had raised for the Children’s Miracle Network at Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville, Florida: $2,210,165.21. We all cried and hugged and cheered and it didn’t matter that we were tired or hungry or anything else. We had raised all of that money for those children who were standing nearby fighting unimaginable diseases and pain with their families beside them. Dance Marathon is an unforgettable, magical moment to be in because you have never felt closeness or love so heavy until you have been in this situation. All year, we built up to this moment. Here’s what you should know if you join:
Registering to become a dancer is not the same as registering to fundraise. You can register to become a dancer and you do have to fundraise; however, you can register to fundraise without having to sign up to be a dancer. What does it mean to be a dancer? You are registering to participate in the final event in the spring in which you will stay awake and stay standing for 20 hours straight. There are two dates in which you can register to dance, stay tuned by checking the website for dates for eligibility to register. Check this website: https://www.dmfsu.org/.
Fundraising does not require you to dance. When registering, you can choose to fundraise as an individual or as a team, then choose your fundraising goal–the lowest amount typically being 300 dollars. If you are fundraising with a team, you may be asked by your team to become the team captain in which you will become responsible for communicating events and meetings to your fellow teammates. Your fundraising goal will also be much larger since you will be the captain of a team–but don’t worry, you are not responsible for raising that amount on your own, that is your team goal. People will be able to donate to you through your donation page or through Venmo, Cashapp, Paypal, and so on; which you will then be responsible for donating yourself to your page. Encourage people to donate to you through incentives and information on your social media. Contact family, businesses, and any family friends in high places who could donate to you.
If you’re going to join, you have to know the lingo. Dance Marathon is known for its acronyms: FTK, BTG, and DM. FTK stands for For The Kids; BTG for Bang That Gong, and DM for Dance Marathon. Bang That Gong is a particularly special one for Dance Marathon at FSU. There is a day designated to this particular acronym in which students will go to Landis Green and bang a gong for every 100 dollars they raise that day. This started because of one of our miracle children who passed away from cancer over a year ago in May 2018. His name was Marshal Fisher, he loved that gong, got excited when he would come to our school and hear it go off one after another. When he passed away, the gong was dedicated to him and his amazing light. His mother still comes to the events and FSU continues to fundraise for Marshal and his family.
4. FTK Color Run
The color run takes place early in the start of the fall semester. This is an early morning event in which you will have the chance to participate and run with tons of dried paint stuck in every place you don’t want it. It’s just a great chance to go out and have fun before the main event in the spring which will be much longer and indoors.
5. Our miracle children
We wouldn’t be doing this without our wonderful miracle children whom we have the chance to meet throughout the year. At our final event in the spring, we have the opportunity to hear one story an hour for 20 hours about their illness, their story, their cause, and their encouragement. We kneel during this time in honor of them and their stories. To learn about each of their stories and their fight, follow this link: https://www.dmfsu.org/children-s-miracle-network.
6. Spring Event
The main event we have all been waiting for. This is my favorite part of the year, it is a moment unmatched. Never have I stayed up for more than 24 hours until this event and it is a cause worth losing sleep over. During this time, we stand for the entirety of the event, kneeling only for our miracle stories. We eat a few times throughout, are sold snacks (the money is donated as well), and are given several activities to keep ourselves up and pushing through. Some of these include Zumba, silent disco, games, a line dance every hour, and more. This tiring time we spend putting our bodies through high-stress is meant to inspire and encourage donations; plus, we are mimicking the fights these children are facing. They are not allowed to take a break or step away from their illness for even a moment. It is a constant battle for them. In the end, we hear from President Thrasher, more miracle children, and, finally, we hear our total amount raised. As I described above, there is a silence, and then cheers of astonishment and happiness as we all start crying. I strongly encourage you to participate.