Later this month, hundreds of students will spend their Saturday dancing for a cause. This year, Carolina For The Kids is celebrating its 25th annual Dance Marathon.
CFTK Executive Director and UNC senior Larcie Britt said the organization is largest student-led nonprofit in North Carolina, whose purpose is to help with childrens’ medical bills. It help with multiple fees, including meal distributions and pediatric playroom staffing as well as helping families pay for medical equipment, gas and electricity bills.
“Our main mission for Carolina For The Kids is to provide what medical insurance doesn't cover, along with emotional support,” Britt said.
This year's marathon is Hollywood themed and will feature performances from the Carolina Girls dance team, Carolina Irish Dance Association, False Profits comedy group and others.
The dance marathon will take place on March 25 from noon until midnight, starting in Fetzer Hall and ending at Hooker Fields. The goal of the Marathon is to create an interactive way to raise money.
“It's basically our biggest fundraising push each year. It’s our last push of the financial year for CFTK before we make our donation to UNC Health,” Britt said.
While the event features performances and other activities, the main challenge is to remain standing for 12 straight hours.
“It's no sitting, no standing, to mimic the life of the nurses and the hardship that the patients and their families go through when they're in the hospital,” Britt said.
The marathon is open to all students who earn their spot by fundraising at least $75. Three meals will be provided for dancers donated by local businesses.
Participants will be able to participate in numerous activities provided by CFTK such as glow in the dark capture the flag, a scavenger hunt, dodgeball and the annual Kenan Stadium sunset walk, Britt said.
“We're going to have those big hamster balls that you can run in on Hooker Fields, and we're going to have hedgehogs coming in,” Mary-Catherine "MC" Gray, who serves as the entertainment chair for CFTK, said.
Along with the performances and activities, the event will also feature a 30 minute period where families CFTK has sponsored will share their stories.
“We're there to provide support when no one else is, in more ways than one,” Britt said. “Whether that'd be emotional — just kind of standing there saying like you have a family with us — or giving them the financial support that they need in other aspects that insurance doesn't cover.”
The goal this year is to match the total raised by CFTK last year which was over $280,000.
Over the past 25 years, CFTK has raised over $7 million, Britt said. However, the COVID-19 pandemic affected participation in the dance marathon and the organization is currently focusing on raising awareness and involvement within the community.
“In the past, we have gotten more engagement because it was advertised more as a UNC tradition and with COVID that kind of fell off a little bit because orientations and admitted students day were all online, so a lot of people don't know as much about CFTK now as they used to,” Britt said.
This is the group’s second event back in-person since the pandemic, and organizers are continuing to work on creating a fun, yet fulfilling event for participants and the families they are helping.
“I never thought I would have had to plan a 12-hour event, and it was the most difficult thing ever, but it was so worth it,” Specialty Coordinator Kayla Kilts said. "So I think having a sense of community on campus as well has been really important to me.”
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