Auburn University Dance Marathon will be hosting its main event on Feb. 9 in the Student Center Ballroom. The event supports Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, specifically Piedmont Regional of Columbus, Georgia, through financial contributions and raising awareness.
AUDM’s current goal is to raise $2 million in five years for the complete expansion and renovation of Piedmont Regional’s neonatal intensive care unit, which cares for premature babies. As it enters the third year of this pledge, AUDM has already raised over $1 million.
The event lasts from 10 a.m. until midnight — 14 hours total. Participating in the event comes with benefits, like a free T-shirt and four meals from restaurants including Waffle House and Panera.
“You can come and go from our 14 hour event as you please, but things are going on at all times that you won't want to miss," said Tatom Moore, vice president of finance for AUDM. "As you hit fundraising goals throughout the day, you get rewards like buttons, T-shirts and so much more.”
The event consists of dancing and games with visits from Miracle Kids, children who have been treated at Children's Miracle Network hospitals and benefited from Dance Marathon funds. There will also be video messages of encouragement from past members of the organization.
“It’s humbling,” said Kaitlyn Conner, AUDM member. “You realize that as much as you are tired and have homework to do ... it’s so much bigger than ourselves.”
Participants stand throughout the entire event as a way to honor the children‘s struggles.
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“The kids have so much fun,” Conner said. “They play around and get lots of attention. They do a talent show, and Aubie comes.”
According to Conner, it is a rewarding experiencing at the end of the night when they reveal how much money was raised.
“At the end of the night when it’s 11:59 (p.m.) and we’re ready to flip that total, I think each one of us just wants to feel like we did everything we could,” Conner said. “The kids are worth it, and I’ll shout it to the sky if I have to. That’s what makes this organization unique. It’s not at all self-serving. It’s a group of students who come together to make real change happen for real families.”
According to Moore, one in 10 kids are treated at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital in their lifetime. Moore’s favorite comparison is when Jordan-Hare is filled up, it is likely that over 8,000 screaming Auburn fans were sick and treated by CMNH.
“What we do in this organization isn't normal, and to be able to give back to our local community just by giving up one Saturday of our time is an opportunity that every single person should take,” Moore said. “It is so rewarding to see the kids we personally impact being able to run around and play, something their parents may have never thought would be possible, all because a group of college students cared about them.”
Moore has a personal story that urges her to work with AUDM.
When she was born, both she and her mother suffered from liver failure with a very small chance of survival. She credits their recovery to the staff of the hospital.
“Due to a lot of prayers and an incredible medical team, we are both happy and healthy today,” Moore said. “Without a team of people fighting for me at just a few days old, I would not be here. Being able to be a part of that team for someone else now is so rewarding, and to do it with my best friends makes it even better.”
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