The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 20th

Dance Marathon sets record

They were trying their best not to collapse.

More than 500 students moved to the beat of 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye," but they were a step slow, and the scene looked more like a hyperactive Generation X concert than a school dance.

These were the waning moments of the UNC Dance Marathon - an annual celebration that marks the end of a year of fundraising.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, the 674 dancers had to stay on their feet for 24 hours. The event, which took place in Fetzer Gym, raised $236,876.12 - an all-time high for the marathon. The money will go to the For the Kids Fund, which distributes funds to benefit children and families at the N.C. Children's Hospital.

"I think people really feel connected to the cause," said senior Erica Newman, the marathon's overall coordinator. "It's a symbolic show of support for the hospital."

The money is used to pay for expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid, such as electric bills, mortgage payments and car repairs.

UNC has held the dance marathon since 1999 and raised almost $1.3 million.

Despite its name, the marathon involved more than dancing. Students also could play basketball, play four square or read magazines. The only requirement was that they remain standing. The event was open to visitors. Families and friends were allowed to stand behind a separation wall in the middle of one of the two gyms.

As the 24th hour drew to a close, one girl slumped against the gym wall, hoping to rest. A moraler crouched in front of the dancer, put her hands on her knees and encouraged her to stand. Moralers are charged with keeping the dancers motivated and on their feet.

"It's sort of like being a summer camp counselor," said senior Tom Baden, a moraler who danced the past two years. "You say, 'Guys and girls, we're going to have a great day, and it'll be over before you know it.'"

Students from Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School also came to Fetzer to get ideas for their own marathon. They held their first one last year and raised almost $9,000 for Duke's and UNC's children's hospitals.

"We just really wanted to help the kids out," Brianne Ryan, 12, said. "Sometimes we take the things we have for granted."

In the final hour, dozens of visitors streamed into the gym, and the feeling of anticipation was palpable. With 10 seconds remaining, the crowd started to count down. When 7 p.m. hit, a cheer went up, and the dancers promptly sat down.

"It went extremely well," Newman said of this year's event. "I'm very pleased with the final outcome."

Features Editor Katie Hoffmann contributed to this report.

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