Miracle fundraiser returns to campus, raises $81,000 for kids in need

By+the+end+of+the+event%2C+Dance+Marathon+raised+just+over+%2481%2C000.+This+amount+included+all+of+the+smaller+fundraisers+held+over+the+last+few+months.+

Marissa Ortiz

By the end of the event, Dance Marathon raised just over $81,000. This amount included all of the smaller fundraisers held over the last few months.

Sydney Chin, Editor in chief

On February 26, Palm Beach Central celebrated the 10th anniversary of hosting Dance Marathon by throwing a party like no other.

Dance Marathon, an event dedicated to raising funds for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, one of which is UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, is one of Central’s biggest yearly events. The National Honor Society works alongside the University of Florida to create an all-day party in which students dance, play games, and, most importantly, stand for the kids that are in dire need of medical help. For the past 10 years, the initiative has become an integral part of the school’s culture.

“I choose to do DM because I wanted to help the kids,” said junior Madison Gould, a Dance Marathon participant. “It truly makes me happy to see us saving lives with the money that we donate.”

Coming back from virtual schooling and adapting to a change in management, the pressure was on for Central to organize an event on par with previous ones. During the 2018-2019 school year, Dance Marathon at Central was named the best in North America, raising over $91,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Then, in 2020, a whopping $124,000 was raised.

“Personally, it was a challenge for me because it was something that I’ve never done before,” said National Honor Society co-sponsor Ms. Tozzi, who was recruited as the club’s co-sponsor earlier this school year. “I’ve never put on an event like this before, so with so many students and so many sponsors and contributors it was definitely scary for me because I didn’t know what to expect and if I could live up to the expectations of what this school has done before.”

Although fundraising and awareness started early in the year, school enthusiasm and support were initially meager. 

“[Our primary challenge was] motivation, the student motivation and then community motivation,” explained National Honor Society co-sponsor Mr. Dalman, who lost the other co-sponsor early in the year when she left the school. “It’s tough, we’re coming off of Covid, we have our economic situation we’re in and businesses didn’t want to contribute, didn’t want to donate food . . . people didn’t want to do stuff, so to overcome that is outstanding. [Dance Marathon’s success] is actually a credit to Mr. Edgecomb and the administration team, as well as our National Honor Society and Dance Marathon leaders who actually coaxed this out for this event.”

Despite early challenges ranging from motivation to organization, Central started to rally together in the week leading up to the event. Flash mobs, merchandise sales, and spirit nights were part of the fun. Additionally, Central hosted a “mini-mini” Dance Marathon at Polo Park Middle School on February 18 which raised over $5,500. All of these activities worked to garner enthusiasm in the community and added to the fundraising total.

As an incentive to raise a $1,000 or more, DM created an exclusive club dubbed the “Comma Club.” This year, 19 students, Adam Amhad, Andrea Betancourt, Gabriella Brocious, Gabi Brockway, Samantha Burke, Carley Campbell, Abigail Dalman, Maddie Dalman, Aislyn Dunn, Lindsay Hersh, Samantha Izzo, Melissa Jimenez, Abigail Lofstead, Marena Marquez, Ryan Oswald, Steven Popovetsky, Liliana Remillard, Emma Suggs, and Gabriella Thomas, earned membership into this club.

However, as the days crept up to the main event, organized chaos ensued. Numerous banners still had to be painted, the cafeteria and courtyard had to be decorated, and there was a general uncertainty of whether Central’s Dance Marathon would even reach its goal of $50,000. The National Honor Society could only cross their fingers and hope that their participants would pull through in the end, and they did.

“It was definitely stressful and took a lot of hard work,” said senior and production committee head Stephanie Jimenez. “Thankfully I had a great group of students to work with, who helped me put together a great event for the kids.

That Saturday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m, around 144 participants danced the day away. Thirty-three representatives from the University of Florida also showed up to oversee operations and boost morale. 

“This event specifically I was very excited for because I’m from South Florida,” said Paige Davis, the Marketing Manager for Dance Marathon at the University of Florida. “I’ve been doing Dance Marathon for 6 years so I was very excited to come back here and see a real mini, especially after the past two years we’ve had Covid. I think the vibes are just there this year. It’s just very cool to see.”

Part of the mission of Dance Marathon is being able to meet some of the Miracle Children that the donated funds support. This year, Kinsey Bogart and her family attended the event and shared her story. At 12-weeks-old, Kinsey experienced her first miracle after she recovered from kidney failure. Then in 2015, Kinsey received a kidney transplant which was initially successful until they started to fail for unknown reasons only a few years later. 

“Without Dance Marathon at UF, there’s a lot of things that we wouldn’t be able to give to Kinsey,” explained Holly Bogart, Kinsey’s mom. “The money that has been raised by the kids here and around the state of Florida has been used to help buy machines that literally are saving Kinsey’s life.”

Today, Kinsey’s chronic illness remains a mystery, but she looks at the positives of life as a resilient, young lady and a graduating high school senior. 

Throughout Dance Marathon, several matching hours were held where participant donations throughout that hour would be matched by UF. Those who contributed to these short fundraising sprints had the opportunity to come up to the stage and hit a giant gong. 

The culinary department even pitched in to create a display of cupcakes with yellow and purple fondant in celebration of Dance Marathon’s tenth birthday. 

Before the big reveal, all participants were asked to join hands and form a Circle of Hope. Then, volunteers came around and cut the green hospital band each student was wearing to symbolize what kids who finish their treatment are finally able to do when they finally leave the hospital.

“Although we had some ups and downs with scheduling and stuff, I feel like it actually went incredibly well,” commented senior and Internal Relations Overall Samantha Izzo. “This is like the most fun DM I’ve ever been to.”

In the final hour, a rave session has held, and the anticipation had reached its pinnacle as a group of 11 dedicated participants mounted the stage to reveal the final amount on the cards that laid before them. After a year of unique challenges, they lifted their cards to unveil Palm Beach Central’s grand total of over $81,000, almost twice the amount of last year’s total.

“I hope that [Dance Marathon] just continues to grow and that more kids are changed by the fact that they can give back to other kids,” said Bogart. “It may help them see the world in a different light and make everyone a little nicer.”

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