From Saturday to Sunday, UGA Miracle hosted its 27th annual dance marathon in the University of Georgia’s Tate Grand Hall. By the end of the event, which is thrown to fundraise for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a total of $1,167,175.22 was raised.
Throughout the marathon, there were many activities for people to participate in and enjoy, including a silent disco, hypnotist show, yoga and a halftime performance by the UGA Dance Dawgs. Following the marathon’s kick off, a hair chop challenge took place where people could cut and donate eight inches of their hair to make wigs for children that deal with hair loss, according to the UGA Miracle website.
Families of children who have been treated at CHOA hospitals were also present at the marathon. During the event, they were able to participate in the various activities and were given time to tell their stories.
“Our Miracle families are a huge part of the dance marathon. Every year, they always express how thankful they are and how we really do impact them,” UGA Miracle’s internal director Allison Wilson said. “We give them a place where they can be safe and everyone accepts them for who they are, no matter what they were treated at Children's [for] ... it's a great all-around experience.”
Initially, UGA Miracle started off as a small organization, but has since grown to become the largest student-run organization at the university. Executive Director Annaclaire Acosta is happy with the progress the club has made over the years.
“It's really grown as a program … over the past 27 years, we've raised over $12 million for the hospital, so it's really awesome,” Acosta said.
To participate in the marathon, students could register online as well as donate to the event. Some students who attended found the marathon was a good way to connect with the children and families who depend on CHOA. Freshman microbiology major Reese Groover found the event inspiring and learned more about the family she was paired up with.
“Some of my favorite parts so far have been listening to the family stories,” Groover said.
In the past, the dance marathon has been 24 or 25 hours. But, last year, it was switched to 26.2 hours to mirror a real marathon which is 26.2 miles.
As the event took place, some students reflected on their time in UGA Miracle and what it has meant to them. Wilson felt her rise in positions demonstrated how much she enjoyed being in the organization.
“I originally started Miracle my freshman year. I heard it was a professional thing to do and make friends because I came from out of state, so I didn't know anyone. I immediately fell in love,” Wilson said. “I slowly stepped up [onto the executive board] because I just kept loving it and I wanted to keep … doing as much as I could for this organization.”