UA Dance Marathon incorporates new elements for 2018 event

UA Dance Marathon incorporates new elements for 2018 event
CW File

The eighth annual University of Alabama Dance Marathon is just around the corner and those involved have kicked it up a notch. 

“It’s so much fun,” said Tatianna Zambrano, a sophomore psychology major and UADM Morale Member. “You get to see all the love first hand, and I think my favorite part of the main event is seeing the children, and getting to play with them, and getting to realize they’re not hospital patients, they’re children. I encourage people to go to get the experience — it’s really motivating and just really fun overall.”

UADM is UA's branch of the nationwide dance marathon for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Specifically, the proceeds from UA’s dance marathon are donated to the CMNH hospital of Alabama. 

Throughout the year, those involved with the organization raise money in a variety of different ways. Some students sell homemade artwork or soap to raise money for the kids in addition to the different smaller events held by the organization as a whole. The dance marathon is the main event and culmination of the year’s fundraising efforts. Normally, the main event is 12 hours. However, this year it has been bumped up to 13.1 to resemble the distance run during a half marathon. 

“Each year we’re getting a little bit bigger,” said Maura Pawlowski, a junior majoring in communications who acts as Assistant Director of Morale Committee for UADM. “Each year we are trying new things, whether it is new activities at the event or new fundraising efforts.”

This year’s main event marathon will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17. Festivities will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude around 11:30 p.m. Attending students will play games, buy merchandise, eat food and dance throughout the day. 

In addition to dancing and fundraising, students at the event will be able to meet some of the children and families who benefit from the work of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Birmingham. 

Tucker McCaleb, a junior chemical engineering major and Morale Member, reminisced about his first encounter with UADM and the impression it made on him.

“I was a freshman,” McCaleb said. “I didn’t know anything about UADM, and I kind of just signed up because my friends were like, “Oh, let’s do this because it’s just something to do.’ And I got there, and the atmosphere was just so incredible. Seeing where the money goes and hearing the miracle families captivated me, personally.”

McCaleb explained the story of a young girl named Kenzie that he learned through his work with UADM. She was born with Cornelia De Lange Syndrome.

“When she was born, doctors said that she would never be able to really walk or do anything that a normal kid could do,” McCaleb said. “Because of all of her treatments at Children’s Hospital, not only can she walk, she loves to run and twirl and dance and do everything that normal kids can do. That’s really what UADM is about — trying to increase the quality of life for these children.”

At the end of the marathon, the final amount of money raised during the entire year will be announced. Last year, the amount was over $300,000.

“It’s a fun Saturday full of great activities and a great way to meet new people,” Pawlowski said. “The day is long and exhausting, but at the end, when they reveal the amount of money raised, it is so worth it.”

Zambrano likewise looks forward to the final reveal. She shared her emotions during last year’s announcement.

“Last year my eyes were just swelling with tears,” Zambrano said. “It was awesome.”

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