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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Dance Marathon breaks fundraising record

One committee leader tells her story

UNC Dance Marathon earned over $436,000 for the UNC Children's Hospital. Participants were on their feet for 24 hours. The event too place in Fetzer gym.

UNC Dance Marathon leaves my head spinning from the power of a simple act — standing.

A blue chair in the middle of my committee’s small workroom in Fetzer Hall was emblematic of that act.

As a dancer and subcommittee chairwoman on the publicity committee, I spent almost half of the 24-hour marathon in that room.

No one sat in that chair, not even those who hadn’t signed up as dancers, in that room where no one would see or know if we broke our promise. It was a powerful temptation as we worked on all things publicity related.

But it made my second Dance Marathon all the more meaningful.

My yearlong journey began against a banner-covered wall in 2010, leaning with my feet and back aching, blearily watching the display of outstanding talent from dozens of student groups.

Inspired by the stories of families touched by our work and the sense of unity between the students, I applied to be a committee sub-chairwoman.

I read the job description – it sounded like a wonderful experience and resume-builder (this is UNC, after all) — but I had no idea what I was signing up for.

And so I began in the summer as the editor of Dance Marathon’s monthly newsletter.

I witnessed the dedication that goes into the 45 fundraising events leading up to the

marathon and the extraordinary impact the grants have at the hospital.

One interview with a specialist in the children’s clinic, whose salary is paid entirely by Dance Marathon, left me beaming and full of new appreciation for the work of 234 committee members, 14 overall committee members, and more than a thousand dancers.

And it all came together in 24 hours — 24 hours that have never flown by so fast, despite the pain.

Sitting down five minutes before it began, I felt tortured by an adrenaline rush that raced through my legs, begging me to stand and dance.

But I knew I’d miss sitting later.

It began with a countdown from Asheton Ayotte, a 9-year-old who was born prematurely.

Halfway through, we stretched our legs in a glorious sunrise walk around Kenan Stadium.

My happiest moment was celebrating the basketball win by dancing like the world was ending, even after 22 hours.

Then, once again, it came to an end, as some of the families affected by our fundraising paid a visit. Arms linked with the girls I had worked with in the past year, I laughed at the antics of 7-year-old Jack, also born prematurely, and cried from the power of one mother’s testimony.

I’d come full circle, and my head was spinning to keep up.

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