UADM 2018 raises $341,000

UADM 2018 raises $341,000
Photo courtesy of Josie Rodriguez

The University of Alabama Dance Marathon has been raising money for the Miracle Kids of the Children's Miracle Network since 2011, and this year they raised over $340,000. 

UADM is student-run and currently has 220 staff members. The organization is part of a national framework with over 150 other colleges and high schools nationwide.

The goal for this year was $400,000, but Jack Ebersold, a senior majoring in marketing and president of UADM, said the event was still a success. 

"While we didn't hit our goal this year, we were still so excited to raise an incredible amount of money for Children's of Alabama and the kids treated there," he said.

Ebersold got involved in UADM during his freshman year at Get On Board Day.

“One of my favorite growth areas is the families,” Ebersold said. “We’re able to bring more hospital families into our program.”

Last year UADM had 12 Miracle Kids, or children that benefit from Children's Miracle Network, and this year they have 21. 

"No matter how much we raise, it’s about the families," Ebersold said.

The money raised through UADM goes to Children's Hospital in Birmingham. Ebersold said the money goes toward child-life specialists and services that help families.

“It doesn’t pay the surgeon,” Ebersold said, “It pays the resources that makes kids feel like kids.”

Ebersold said the way the money is spent alleviates stress on families by letting them know they have college students cheering them on.

Students registered to fundraise all year and dance for 12 hours during the annual main event. According to Jesse Reichenbaum, a senior majoring in communicative disorders and a morale director for UADM, there were over 1500 dancers throughout the day.

“I got involved because I had to join an organization for my sorority, and I fell in love with it,” Reichenbaum said.

One of the Miracle Kids that participated in the event was Trace Boyett, 13, who became part of the Children’s Miracle Network after getting treatment for his cataracts. 

Boyett was diagnosed with jaundice as an infant, but after it was treated, he developed cataracts. Boyett has had 13 surgeries since he was born, Wendy Boyett, Trace Boyett’s mother, said. A Bili-Bassinet, a phototherapy instrument used to force Vitamin D through light waves into the skin, helped treat Trace Boyett. It was donated through Children’s Miracle Network.

Trace Boyett is one of the two original kids who were part of UADM’s network, and Wendy Boyett said their family has stayed for the duration of every UADM event since it began.

“Kids get thrilled that college kids are there for them on a certain day,” Trace Boyett said.

Wendy Boyett said their family was invited to Auburn’s first dance marathon, and while there, UA students asked them to come to their dance marathon as well. 

Apart from the main event provided for the Miracle children, they were also surprised with special guest football players Tua Tagovailoa and Chris Owens who took photos with and signed autographs for the Miracle children. Owens and Tagovailoa also danced and spoke to the dancers during the 4th Quarter block, encouraging them to beat the University of Georgia. 

Kenzie Britton, 17, has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and has participated in UADM for years. CdLS is a genetic disorder that causes a person to experience physical and mental delays. As an infant, Britton also had a hole in her heart that had to be repaired, orthopedic issues, epilepsy and slow development according to Kinisha Britton, Kenzie Britton’s mother. 

“Her first big event after the surgeries was UADM three years ago where she danced and shared her story,” Kinisha Britton said on stage to the dancers.

Personal time with the families is a large part of UADM. Gene Fulmer, a senior majoring in marketing, works with the family relations part of UADM. Fulmer said he started participating in UADM his sophomore year, and he saw the impact that someone could have on the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Fulmer’s designated Miracle Family is the Gober family. Trey Gober, 16, has Stickler Syndrome. Fulmer said he has seen Gober grow especially after he had knee surgery last semester. The most impactful thing for Fulmer is watching the Miracle Kids just be happy as he spends time with all of them.

“I see their joy when they interact with each other because they go through similar things,” Fulmer said. 

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