UNC Dance Marathon kicks off 15th year

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 12:16 AM

More than 1,600 students have signed up to compete in the 15th Annual UNC Dance Marathon to raise money for patients and families of N.C. Children’s Hospital.

The 24-hour dance marathon kicks off today at 7:30 p.m., in UNC’s Fetzer Gym on South Road.

“I’m excited that we’ve seen more and more interest this year from dancers and the surrounding community,” said Overall Coordinator David Zittrouer in a statement. “I’m excited they are helping us make the difference and they get to experience the difference for themselves.”

The Dance Marathon will wrap up at the 23rd hour of the event with “Family Hour,” during which patients and families who have benefited from the dance marathon will share personal stories.

Afterward, the total amount raised for the event will be revealed.

Last year, dancers raised about $483,210. The event has raised about $3.3 million in the past 14 years.

During the dance marathon, there will be entertainment by campus and community performance groups, a walk around Kenan Stadium at sunrise, tailgate activities at Hooker Field and speeches from doctors at N.C. Children’s Hospital.

This year, dancers are divided into 23 teams, each with a superhero-related name to reflect this year’s theme.

Each team is headed by a member of the Morale Committee and has been assigned a kid co-captain. Kid co-captains are children that have been personally affected by the hospital or UNC-DM and serve as a reminder to dancers of why students are participating in the marathon.

In addition to dancers, more than 250 motivators and volunteers participate in the marathon. Motivators keep dancers energized during six-hour shifts, while volunteers help the operations of the marathon during three-hour shifts.

Molly Sutherland, publicity chairwoman for the event, said the dance marathon allows students and members of the community to go beyond simply making a monetary donation.

“We also have very strong emotional impact with these patients and families,” said Sutherland, a senior who has been involved with the event since her freshman year.

She also noted that N.C. Children’s Hospital serves children from across the state, which means the dance marathon has a long reach that touches people and allows student volunteers to connect with patients and families from outside of Chapel Hill.

“The hospital is right on our campus, so I get to go down and volunteer as often as I like,” Sutherland said. “It touches the entire state.”