On Friday night, loud music and energized voices yelling and laughing could be heard from Fetzer Gym. And the buzz continued for quite a while: until 7 p.m. on Saturday night – just a bit less energized.
The UNC Dance Marathon, the largest Carolina For The Kids fundraising event and cumulative celebration of the year, kicked off Friday night at 7 p.m., with dancers preparing to tackle 24 hours of no sitting and no sleeping.
“It really shows people, ‘Oh wow, this is really hard to stand for 24 hours and not to sleep for 24 hours,” said Public Relations Chairperson Marissa Devine. "But I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to worry about my child and be awake for 24 hours and to not know what they’re going through or not to be able to be in their state."
Eleven committees with over 300 members and about 1,200 student dancers all rallied together for the cause of raising money and providing support for the UNC Children’s Hospital.
Each dancer was required to raise at least $200 in order to participate, with the choice of dancing for either 12 or 24 hours. The total amount of money raised over the span of the year was revealed at the conclusion of the marathon Saturday night, adding up to $440,955.07 and beating the 2018 total.
And since the first UNC Dance Marathon in 1999, officially renamed as Carolina For The Kids in 2015 to broaden the organization’s scope of events, $6 million has been raised for the cause.
Why a dance marathon?
Because it’s a UNC bucket list item, Devine said. And unlike other events, the families with members in UNC Children's Hospital come on stage during “family hour” at the conclusion of the marathon and tell their stories, allowing dancers to directly see and understand the impact of what they are doing.
Additionally, the Dance Marathon serves as a symbolic representation of a day in the lives of the families, and participants glimpse a tiny part of the hardships they might face, Devine said.