10th Annual Dance Marathon to Benefit Children's Hospital

More than 1,100 Carolina students have committed to stand on their feet for a full 24 hours at the 10th annual UNC Dance Marathon, which begins Friday. The event celebrates the conclusion of the student participants’ yearlong fundraising efforts in support of the patients and families of N.C. Children’s Hospital.

The UNC Dance Marathon, held at Fetzer Gym, will feature around-the-clock entertainment from campus and community performance groups, varsity athletes, professional bands and guest speakers. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22, with festivities culminating in a grand total fundraising announcement at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.

The UNC Dance Marathon has raised more than $1.3 million for N.C. Children’s Hospital during the past nine years, each year superseding the previous year’s fundraising total. Last year’s UNC Dance Marathon was the most successful to date, raising more than $236,000 for the Marathon’s “For the Kids” fund.

The fund enables the UNC Dance Marathon to give directly to N.C. Children’s Hospital’s families to help with extra costs not associated with health care expenses that they may not otherwise be able to afford expenses such as gas and car repairs so parents can visit their sick children, parking and meal vouchers, utility bills that might otherwise go unpaid because of looming medical bills, gift certificates to local retailers, clothing and toys for kids, etc. N.C. Children’s Hospital social workers have discretion to disperse “For the Kids” funds to families on an as-needed basis throughout the year.

In addition to helping cover families’ essential expenses, the UNC Dance Marathon has extended the reach of its fundraising efforts in recent years by funding divisional grants with specific clinical divisions within N.C. Children’s Hospital. In 2007, grant recipients included the Newborn Critical Care Center within the hospital’s division of neonatal-perinatal medicine, which received funding to buy two NICU Knowledge kiosks.

The kiosks are freestanding, interactive touch-screen computers containing educational modules designed to increase parents’ comfort level within the NICU environment and enable them to become confident participants in their child’s care. Modules range from an introduction to equipment and explanation of medical terms to recognition of infant signals.

“Our parents and staff love the new NICU Knowledge units,” said Dr. Kate Veness-Meehan, director of the Newborn Critical Care Center, which admits an average of 700 infants each year. “They have furthered our ability to deliver family-centered care and caregiver education, particularly with our Hispanic families, who often times struggle with language and cultural barriers. We are extremely grateful to the UNC Dance Marathon for this gift, which continues to make a tremendous and very positive impact.”

The public is encouraged to attend the marathon and lend their support throughout the 24-hour event and particularly during the kick-off at 7 p.m. on Friday and during the closing ceremony beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The closing ceremony will feature presentations by patients and families and close with a celebratory announcement of the overall fundraising total.

Donations can be made in-person or online at the UNC Dance Marathon’s Web site, which will offer a 24-hour online Web cast of the event. The 2008 UNC Dance Marathon also features an online auction, accessible via the Web site and offering a variety of items ranging from gift certificates donated by area vendors, restaurants and attractions to gift items such as jewelry and accessory packages. Auction items are open to bidding the week leading up to the event and close at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with proceeds contributing to the overall fundraising total.

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