11th Annual Dance Marathon to 'Rock Out for the Kids'

More than 1,800 Carolina students – 600 more than last year – have committed to stand on their feet for a full 24 hours to “rock out for the kids” at the 11th annual UNC Dance Marathon, which begins Friday night. 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.

This year’s 24-hour marathon, featuring a “Rock ‘N’ Roll” theme, will include student dancers and volunteers and around-the-clock entertainment from campus and community performance groups, guest speakers, varsity athletes, and current and former patients and families of the UNC Children’s Hospital. The event, held at Fetzer Gym, kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, with festivities culminating in a grand total fundraising announcement at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The marathon is UNC’s largest student-led fundraising endeavor, with  a 10-year fundraising total of more than $1.6 million. Last year’s marathon was the most successful so far, raising more than $320,000 for the Marathon’s “For the Kids” fund.

The fund enables the 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.

Since 2006, the marathon has offered several divisional grants each year to departments within the Children’s Hospital. Each Dance Marathon grant adheres to the organization’s mission: to unify the University and surrounding communities to improve the quality of life for the children and families of N.C. Children’s Hospital.

The N.C. Children’s Heart Center, the division of pediatric hematology/oncology and the hospital’s Healthy Steps Program were the marathon’s 2008 grant recipients. The marathon’s grant to the heart center helps fund the cardiac hybrid surgery program, which aims to delay the need for high-risk open heart surgery reconstruction on newborn infants. Within pediatric hematology/oncology, the marathon’s grant enables hospital staff to provide greater psychosocial support for children and families of children with cancer and blood disorders.

At this year’s marathon, dancers will be divided into 24 teams, each led by a captain from the morale committee. Teams will compete together in myriad events centered around this year’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll” theme. Dancers will be joined by hundreds of other student volunteers and campus and community members. Donations can be made in-person at Fetzer Gym or online via the UNC Dance Marathon’s official Web site, which also will offer a 24-hour online Web cast of the event.

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