The Donald L. Tucker Civic Center was filled with emotion and excitement as more than 1,800 student volunteers cheered, hugged and cried when Dance Marathon at Florida State University unveiled the record-breaking amount —$2,152,382 — they raised for charity during the total reveal ceremony Sunday.
“Go away from here today knowing you all have made a difference in the lives of these children and their families,” said President John Thrasher. “Thanks to all of your hard work this year, and I have a feeling the number you see is going to blow you away.”
Dance Marathon at FSU (DM at FSU) is the fourth-highest fundraising Miracle Network Dance Marathon program in the nation. It is a yearlong fundraising effort “For The Kids,” fueled by students, alumni, faculty, staff and the community. Students volunteer as dancers, raising a minimum of $300 to participate in the main event, where they stay awake and dancing on their feet for 20 hours.
Two groups of dancers participated over the weekend on Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4. The total reveal ceremony was held after the second wave of dancing, and students were amazed to see they had not only hit their goal of $2M, but exceeded it.
“We all worked really hard this whole year and raising more than $2 million is an unbelievable accomplishment,” said dancer Anders Salas, a freshman majoring in political science and economics who has been participating in Dance Marathon since high school.
Dance Marathon at FSU began as a small fundraiser in Tully Gymnasium in 1995, raising slightly more than $19,000. It has now become the largest student-run philanthropy on FSU’s campus, raising more than $10 million for the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Shands Children’s Hospital and the FSU College of Medicine. In 2017, DM at FSU raised $1,830,167.
Sophomore Katie Kiselewski, a public relations captain for DM at FSU, said she fell in love with giving back to the community and helping children in need after her first year participating in Dance Marathon.
“It made me feel like I could be a part of something bigger,” said Kiselewski, a business management and public relations major. “We plan for this all year, but nothing can prepare you for how it feels to see so many people dedicated to this cause. It was emotional and mind-blowing dancing 20 hours for these miracle children who are fighting for their lives — we are all fighting together.”
For junior Azia Williams, the public relations coordinator for DM at FSU, who was also a Miracle Child, that fight was personal.
“I was born about seven weeks premature with a condition called hydrocephalus, and I spent part of my life in All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, going through years of physical and occupational therapy,” said Williams, a media & communication studies major. “It has been the biggest blessing to be able to be a part of an organization that gives to children who remind me of myself.”
For more information, visit dmfsu.org.