dance marathon

Students work year-round to pull off annual fundraiser

Governor’s recognition of Dance Marathon highlights student-led event

They’ve raised more than $2 million in the past two years for the kids at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. They’ve been recognized by Gov. Henry McMaster for their efforts. But just like the dancing at their annual Main Event, the work never stops for University of South Carolina Dance Marathon.

On March 2, Dance Marathon unveiled another record fundraising total: $1,038,156 for its 2018-19 campaign. It was an occasion well worth celebrating, but as with any truly great team, the leaders of the largest student-run philanthropy at South Carolina immediately began looking to the future.

“It’s never over,” says Julian Masters, 2019-20 vice president of communications. “The next day you’re thinking ‘OK, what are we going to do now?’”

Just days after one fundraising year ends, the outgoing student leaders take applications, conduct interviews and choose their replacements. Some hold a leadership position for more than one year. Others, like Masters, who served on the merchandise team in 2018-19, move to roles with increased responsibility. The new team goes to work immediately.

“We had meetings at the end of the school year,” Masters says. “We meet all summer over Facetime. We’re focusing on a new campaign, sort of a new idea for the upcoming year. We’re analyzing what was successful and what wasn't to make sure we’re even more successful for the upcoming year.”

The new leaders will come together in St. Louis in July for the Dance Marathon Leadership Conference, which includes teams from universities all over the country who support their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

They’ll find a familiar face there. Kaity Lynch, 2018-19 president of the university’s Dance Marathon, graduated from South Carolina in May and accepted a job as a Dance Marathon manager with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She will be working with more than 40 student organizations as part of the national leadership team, where she joins fellow alumna and fellow former president Taylor Dietrich.

Dance Marathon’s 2018-19 success was recognized by the university with the lighting of Capstone in garnet, and on April 24 by McMaster.

McMaster invited the leadership team to the State House, along with their counterparts from other universities, and declared April 24 South Carolina Dance Marathon Day. The proclamation singled out University of South Carolina Dance Marathon for its fundraising total, by far the largest in the state and among the best in the nation.

Proud as they are of the money they’ve raised, as Dance Marathon begins its 22nd year, the students are quick to remind those outside the organization that their work goes beyond fundraising.

“The number is a really, really big deal, but we do so much that you can see in the community,” Masters says. She refers to personal visits to the hospital, delivering holiday and birthday gifts, babysitting to give parents much-needed help — all of which build relationships with kids and families that continue long after illnesses end. Team members also support countless other organizations for the kids.

“It’s more than just on campus,” Masters says. “It’s more than our organization. It’s beyond that. It’s our community. It’s Columbia. We’re helping kids, and it’s amazing. To say I’m a part of it is fulfilling, and it’s wonderful."

USCDM is always open to any student enrolled at South Carolina. Dancing ability is not needed, only a willingness to help the kids who are the reason for it all. More information on the organization is available at the Dance Marathon website.

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