Dance Marathon, middle school host Dance-a-thon

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Austin Mejia, 14, leads dancers to the song Gangnam Style by Psi at the Mini Dance Marathon at McDougle Middle School.

Dance Marathon is famous among UNC students for its enthusiastic recruiting and passionate participants, often dressed in wild costumes and shouting, “For the kids.”

And now the student-run organization is expanding its reach to a local middle school.

On Friday night, UNC Dance Marathon and McDougle Middle School held the first ever “Dance-a-Thon” — a two and a half-hour mini-marathon — to raise money for patients at N.C. Children’s Hospital.

During the past three weeks, students worked with McDougle student teacher Abby Poeske and UNC student Megan Warren, who both work with UNC’s Dance Marathon, to brainstorm concepts and activities for the mini-marathon.

“It’s a matter of finding the right group of kids that are willing to take the time to help others,” Warren said.

With an entry fee of $5, the kids could participate in a night of dancing and activities, including a costume contest, a rave with glow sticks, a card-making table for the kids at the children’s hospital and a banner-making station.

“It’s different because it’s for something and it’s making a difference,” said eighth-grader Maeve Gualtieri-Reed, who enjoyed having a social event that was different from a normal middle-school dance.

“It’s great being together and doing the same thing.”

At the end of the night, the students on the 16-person planning committee presented the final fundraising total of $2,531.

“I can’t express how well it went,” Poeske said, adding how surprised and pleased she thought the kids were. “I’m very happy.”

Not only was the event’s fundraising successful, it also raised awareness for Dance Marathon among younger people in the community, Poeske said.

“It’s not just good for Dance Marathon, its good for the community and (the students) too,” she said.

Eighth-grade social studies teacher Cissy O’Neal said she believes the event could be replicated in the coming years with continued help from Dance Marathon.

“We would have to have a facilitator from the University,” O’Neal said.

“As far as putting in the time, energy and know-how, I don’t have that.”

Eighth-grader Rachel Hotong, a member of the student planning committee, said she wanted to get involved with the project after going to UNC’s Dance Marathon.

Hotong says she thought the event was successful and raised a lot of money.

“My mom is in the hospital right now and I know how much this helps out the families,” Hotong said.

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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