During my sophomore year here at the University of Missouri, one of my sorority sisters who doubled as one of my closest gal pals convinced me to sign up for Dance Marathon: an event benefitting Children’s Miracle Network as well as the University Children’s hospital. I had heard about it, but was rather hesitant to sign up to stand for 13.1 hours (the equivalence of running a half marathon). Little did I know that I was about to witness one of the greatest, most incredible journeys that would inspire me in the best ways.
The day begins with the dancers filing into the designated area which is filled with morale captains and steering committee who are already on their feet dancing around to hype up the masses. These aren’t the only people there, though, because miracle families are spread throughout the gym as well. Miracle families are those who have children who are represented by the teams, which the participants register for. This year, we had 20 teams, each with a story that inspired us to keep dancing for kids who cannot. The families are so enthusiastic about this event and stick around for all 13.1 hours to meet the dancers and form bonds to last a lifetime. Throughout the night, families come up to the stage and tell their stories of how exactly they became Miracle families and how Children’s Hospital changed their lives. All throughout the 13.1 hours, they roam around and dance along with the outrageously hyper crowd, making the day so much more personal for all parties involved.
Now it wouldn’t be a dance marathon without music, would it? There are two DJs who play for the duration of the entire day/night, standing and doing their job for just as long as the dancers are. They keep the variety fresh, with the exceptional Bruno Mars repeat, as well as making sure the atmosphere stays fun and energetic. This year, there was an hour with consistent throw backs including a variety of boy bands and Sir Mix-A-Lot, no complaints in the slightest about that. Most upbeat genres were covered, and if the DJs didn’t cover them, then it was definitely accounted for in the morale dance. At random moments throughout the Main Event, a siren would go off signaling the dancers to get to the dance floor as fast as they could. A mash up of over twenty songs played as the morale captains taught us all a choreographed dance to different segments of the song. By the end of the night, the dancers did a beautifully organized routine. In my experience, I found the morale dance to be absolutely fascinating. Not only does the mash up bring together artists like Luke Bryan and Miley Cyrus, but it brings together a variety of dancers who come together and show off the best dance moves they’ve got. It doesn’t matter if you’ve danced for years or if this is your first night busting a move in public, that morale dance definitely makes you feel infinite. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel fabulous getting into the “Talk Dirty” and “Wrecking Ball” segments of the number.
There are other smaller aspects during the 13.1 hours that keep the dancers busy, such as gym-wide games of Simon Says and Ships and Sailors, guest appearances from acapella groups on campus, dance groups from Columbia, and dance numbers from the Miracle Moms and the staff at the Children’s Hospital. One would assume that standing on your feet for 13.1 hours would be a pain and seem as though time drags on. In all actuality, it’s like a week at summer camp all packed into one day. In between the courageous families speaking and the dorky dancing occurring, we become a family. We are all there for one purpose: for the kids. We are all in it for the long run: shaking our booties and standing for more tomorrows. It’s amazing to see such a unified, fun-filled event for a fantastic cause. If there is ever a chance for you or anyone you know to participate in a Dance Marathon, I hope you either participate or encourage someone to, because you would not regret a single second of it.
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