After capping their year-long fundraising efforts with a 14-hour nonstop dance marathon, the Auburn University Dance Marathon, a student-led effort to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, announced their final fundraising total for the year at midnight Saturday.
This year's grand total of $568,417.07 was a more than $25,000 increase from AUDM's total in 2017 and the most in the 7-year history of the event. The money will stay in the area to benefit the Children's Hospital at Midtown Medical Center at Columbus Regional Health.
AUDM President Tiffany Thompson said that all the money raised will be going to fund the "Miracle NICU," the name of which was revealed today by AUDM.
"We were able to name that due to the amount of money and the support that we're giving the hospital," Thompson said.
AUDM didn't make it to this year's lofty goal of $658,000 — a thousand dollars for each of the 658 pediatric surgeries that take place at the hospital each year — but the program was still a success and a benefit to the hospital receiving the funds, organizers said. Thompson added that the result felt "so, so good."
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"Everyone has worked so hard, and we just keep growing every single year, and I'm very proud of that," Thompson said. "Hearing from the kids ... shows us firsthand the impact that we're making, and I cry almost every miracle story I hear."
Both seasoned veterans of AUDM and new dancers joined the day-long event in the Student Center ballroom.
For Abbie Cosso, sophomore in exercise science, this year was her first experience participating in AUDM, alongside her sorority sisters from KAO.
"Me and my friends just decided to do it together," Cosso said. "I like listening to the kids' stories. ... It really makes a personal connection to what you're doing."
AUDM Assistant Director of Finance Lindsay Freeman, junior, said she has participated in the event each of her years at Auburn. What keeps her coming back? The kids of the Miracle Network.
"Getting to hear how much [the families] have gone through really motivates me to keep fundraising and push through," said Freeman. "At the end of the night, when we flip the numbers, just how all our hard work throughout the year has paid off is a really, really cool feeling."
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