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Carolina For the Kids hosts 26th annual dance marathon

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UNC research staffer Emily Le and law student Jack Flesch rehearse before the UNC Ballroom Team's performance at the Carolina for the Kids Dance Marathon on March 23, 2024. UNC students show their support for the cause by participating in the 12-hour, no-sitting and no-sleeping event with live music, games, performances, and activities.

The Carolina For The Kids Foundation hosted its 26th annual dance marathon on Saturday, the culmination of the organization's fundraising efforts from this past school year.

The 12-hour event featured vendors, performers and food trucks with the goal of supporting families at the UNC Children’s Hospital. At the end of the dance marathon, CFTK announced that it had raised $207,215.65 throughout the course of the year.

Meredith Braddy, executive director of CFTK, has participated in the event all four years that she has been at UNC. She said  the organization aims to provide emotional and financial support to patients and families. 

“It's just such a great community to be a part of; we're all working toward a cause that means a lot to all of us,” Braddy said

At the first installment of the dance marathon in 1999, it was the only event held by the organization, originally called UNC Dance Marathon before later becoming CFTK. 

The original event lasted 24 hours. Braddy said it the marathon transitioned to a 12-hour event during the COVID-19 pandemic, to make it more accessible for the community to engage. This year’s marathon began at noon and lasted until midnight.

Although the event has changed since its creation in 1999, Braddy said it has maintained a commitment to its main purpose.

“We bring families and patients that we've helped in the past and they come and speak. It’s really a cause-centered event, but there's also a lot of fun things going on for members,” she said.

The event has one big rule: no sitting the entire time to mimic a nurse or doctors shift. The dance also featured performances from student-led dance groups, a cappella groups and bands. Several carnival games were also set up for attendees in Fetzer Hall and on Hooker Fields. 

The marathon also featured a family hour that spotlighted the stories of families with children at the hospital.

“There's a lot of food, there's a lot of events, a lot of games we play to keep us hyped up,” Mika McQuiston, an event attendee and volunteer, said

Anna Phan, a volunteer at the dance marathon, said it is important to have a community that supports the families at the UNC Children’s Hospital. 

“I just wanted to be able to give back to the community because there's a lot of parents who are unable to help out with their medical bills,” Phan said.

Warren said that her favorite part of the event was hearing from families she remembered from previous years, and seeing firsthand the progress the children had made with their health and how relieved the families seemed. 

“The main thing is at the end of the day it's for the kids and I think that's just really powerful,” McQuiston said. “Even though the event can be super tiring and fundraising is a lot of work, it's really worth it because you're supporting a bigger, better cause.” 

While the dance marathon is the main event that CFTK organizes, it also hosts a five-kilometer run fundraiser called Kilometers For The Kids.

Warren said events like the dance marathon and Kilometer for the Kids are open to all UNC students, whether or not they are members of CFTK, and whether or not they are pursuing a future in the medical field. 

“We all have our own reasons for being here,” Braddy said. “And just being in that kind of environment motivates you to go further, to work more for the cause and it's just a great place to be.”

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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