From Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. until Nov. 8 at 7 a.m., UNC Charlotte hosted its third annual Dance Marathon, a 12-hour event celebrating year-long efforts to raise funds for the Levine Children’s Hospital.
Headed by Executive Director Emily Grassett, a UNC Charlotte senior majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, the leadership team that raises money for the Levine Children’s Hospital and organizes the Dance Marathon consists of 98 members. It is an organization that is part of a much larger Children’s Miracle Network.
Children’s Miracle Network is a national non-profit organization that aims to raise money for children’s hospitals all across America. UNC Charlotte is one of many universities, including Duke University and John Hopkins University, which work with the organization.
UNC Charlotte was one of hundreds of universities that held their Dance Marathons on the eve of Nov. 7.
The Dance Marathon is an opportunity to honor those involved in the organization, the members of the community who contributed their time and money for the cause and the families whose lives were changed by the donations made.
“This is our celebration. We’ve worked hard for the last year and this is the point where we celebrate for 12 hours by dancing, eating tons of delicious food and meeting some of the families we have been able to impact,” said Grassett.
The planning stage for the Dance Marathon began back in August of this academic year. The event organizers faced multiple challenges going into the third year of the fundraiser and dance marathon.
“We weren’t the new kids on the block, but we also weren’t yet a tradition. It was all about getting people interested in us and reminding them why the previous years were so much fun,” said Grassett.
She adds that the organization had to work at spreading the word and getting the message out on campus without bombarding or become a nuisance.
Another challenge event organizers faced was entertaining the public for 12 straight hours. The Dance Marathon incorporated a variety of entertaining activities.
Throughout the night, a lip-sync battle and a disc jockey battle were held. Students performed all kinds of different dances ranging in style and the culture they evolved from. An example of one such dance was the kizomba, a sensual dance which originated in Angola.
Throughout the night there were different theme hours to change the music up. Some of these hours were hippie hour, during which people were invited to dress up as a hippie, throwback hour and the popular rave hour, when glow sticks were handed out and the music changed to club music.
At 8 p.m. an hour after the start of the Dance Marathon, Norm the Niner arrived. During that hour the activities centered on Charlotte sports.
As the excitement began wearing down towards the early morning, the
morale team, which also organized the different themed hours, had the important job of hyping everybody up.
What made this year’s Dance Marathon different from the first two years was that the pool of entertainers during the first two years stayed relatively the same, this year that pool expanded.
“We said to ourselves ‘What haven’t we tried before’ and really pushed the limits,” said Grassett.
Over the course of three years, UNC Charlotte’s branch of the organization raised a total of over $100,000.
Grassett hopes to see the Dance Marathon continue on for many years to come. On a visit to Purdue University, where the Dance Marathon has been held for over 20 years, she watched the school raise $100,000 in just one day.
“It was spectacular to see other schools do something like that after such a long period of time. It really makes me want UNC Charlotte to have the Dance Marathon become that one thing one campus that everyone does and owns,” said Grassett
More importantly for Garrett, it is about so much more than 12-hours of dancing, food and entertainment.
“Our slogan is FOR THE KIDS. That is what it all comes down to. As much work as this takes, seeing the families we were able to impact come out is a little reminder that everything we do is for the kids. It feels special to be a part of something big like that,” said Grassett.
Although the UNC Charlotte Dance Marathon has raised over $100,000 over the course of the past three years, there is no actually fundraising taking place at the marathon.
Instead, the event is more in the spirit of celebrating what they have accomplished and how much they have raised for families in need.
Photos by Leysha Caraballo.