Several hundred students danced the night -- and day -- away in Fetzer Gym this weekend, raising a record-high $100,289.33 for the N.C. Children's Hospital.
Dance Marathon 2001, the largest student-run fund-raiser at UNC, brought 350 volunteers together for 24 hours of dancing and entertainment beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.
The annual event, which garners funds from various campus organizations and corporate sponsors, is now in its third year.
Highlights included a visit from former UNC women's soccer players Mia Hamm and Cindy Parlow, lip sync performances by several UNC athletic teams and step shows by a number of Greek organizations.
At 10 p.m. Friday, energy emanated from Fetzer. Some volunteers said they welcomed the challenge of staying on their feet for a day straight. "I've stayed up 24 hours before, just not standing up, but I know I've got the whole 24 hours," said Helena Bates, a freshman journalism and mass communication major from Fayetteville.
Although sodas were served, many participants went caffeine-free, relying instead on yellow-shirted "morale boosters" to combat their sagging energy levels.
Freshman anthropology major Rob Weldon from Thomasville said he was exhausted but trying to stay peppy. "You have to have a lot of energy to keep everyone's morale up, especially toward the end," he said. "But it's worth it. This is definitely one of the things I want to do the rest of my years here."
By 1:30 p.m. Saturday, many dancers still claimed to have enough energy to make it to the 24-hour mark.
Natalie Halbach, a sophomore international studies major from Minnesota, said the crowd kept her motivated. "Instead of dragging as time goes on, I'm feeling stronger," she said. "You kind of draw strength from each other -- everyone is pulling together for the kids."
Dance Marathon Coordinator Cristy Irvin said she believes family hour, a period of time from 5 p.m to 6 p.m. Saturday when the families of children who will benefit from the event are specifically invited to attend, is the most memorable part for many participants.
George Leamon, a political science and history major from Charlotte, said seeing the kids gave him his second wind. "It's a moving experience, and it means so much to so many people," he said. "I'm fatigued, but ... I'm waiting it out."
After a countdown to the 7 p.m. 24-hour mark, Irvin credited volunteers and participating organizations for the huge success of the marathon. "You are all the reason for this year's total -- $100,289.33," she said. "The marathon is a combination of the money raised and the energy invested, and I hope everyone had a great time."
Leamon said he believes the event speaks for the conviction of UNC students to helping the N.C. Children's Hospital. "Everyone says that college students are apathetic, but the success of this event should tell them that that's just not true."
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