The USCDM Morale Team

For the Kids

UofSC Dance Marathon's year-long fundraiser ends Saturday. The goal: $1,190,000.

A year ago, University of South Carolina Dance Marathon made history, raising more than a million dollars for the kids at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital (then known as Palmetto Health). Just days after that success, they began working to do it again. That yearlong effort concludes Saturday (March 2) with the student organization’s annual Main Event.

More than 2,000 UofSC students have already registered for Main Event, a 14-hour day of dancing, games, messages from kids and parents who have been helped by the children’s hospital and, of course, fundraising. The UofSC Dance Marathon team set a goal of $1,190,000 for this year, with the number chosen to represent the 119 beds at the hospital.

Exercise science major Charlotte Ruble and broadcast journalism major Scotty Gavlin will spend much of the 14 hours of Main Event on stage. The two are this year’s “head morale” pair, leading seven color team captains and 95 morale team members in keeping spirits up and energy high all day, as well as leading the dancing.

Ruble, Gavlin and their team have been working since April of 2018, recruiting new members and making Dance Marathon an even more familiar name in Columbia.

“We wanted to reach out to more of campus and spread that passion we all have,” Ruble says.

The money raised by UofSC Dance Marathon funds the Child Life Department at Prisma Health. The department focuses on making hospital visits as pleasant as possible for kids and their families. Last year’s money also funded the construction of a playground specifically designed for use by children undergoing treatment. As a future pediatric occupational therapist, Ruble works with some of the children as an intern and sees firsthand how much those things mean.

“Maybe it takes away an hour of the pain they’re feeling,” Ruble says. “They don’t have to pay for what we fundraise for. This is one less thing they have to worry about.”

Perhaps the biggest job Saturday for Ruble and the morale team is teaching the line dance. The dance is created by the morale team each year. This year’s version is eight minutes long, with the head morale pair leading the way, and at Main Event, all 2,000-plus participants will learn it. Ruble and Gavlin chose the music, and they and the rest of the morale team came up with the choreography.

“It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done just because we wanted it to be perfect,” Ruble says. “To be honest, from freshman year I made a playlist of the songs I wanted on the line dance when I was Head Morale. That’s the level I was at.”

A year of preparation for everyone. Four years or more of preparation for many of the leaders. Countless hours spent volunteering while balancing classes, jobs and everything else. For Ruble and the rest of the UofSC Dance Marathon team, every moment has been worth it, but none of them will be satisfied until they hit that $1,190,000 goal. They will do whatever it takes to get there.

“I feel like I’ve been in training camp the past three years,” says Ruble. “The amount of adrenaline you get from that day is just unbelievable. You’re going to have the best day if you come. We’re so excited. We’ve worked so hard.”

 Donations to UofSC Dance Marathon are accepted year-round at the organization’s website.