Four hundred and thirty seven Cal Poly students chose to spend their Friday night at a different kind of party on Mar. 10. Students danced through the night for 12 hours to raise money for the Miracle Network Dance Marathon.
Using the hashtag #ForTheKids (FTK), Miracle Network Dance Marathons are hosted across the nation for children with illnesses. Posters with the slogan “We dance for the kids who can’t” lined Chumash Auditorium.
The marathon paid off when donors raised a total of $36,254.17 for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. The total broke the record for the largest amount raised by a debut Dance Marathon in the nation.
The money from Cal Poly’s dance marathon was donated to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The hospital is one of many others that partner with Children’s Miracle Network, receiving local donations to fund critical treatments and daily health care needs.
Greek life, Cal Poly clubs and organizations and students came together for the dance marathon. This was exactly the goal of Miracle Network Dance Marathon executive director and business administration junior Haley Stegall.
“I wanted this to be huge,” Stegall said. “I saw this as a really unique opportunity to combine campus and bring greek life, clubs, individual students, every edge of campus together for one cause.”
Stegall’s goal was realized, with over 40 teams and 650 individuals registered before the venue was filled to the brim Friday night.
For some participants, the event came with a personal connection. Several Cal Poly students had been treated or had family who had been treated by a Children’s Miracle Network hospital. Agricultural science senior Audrey Lent was one of those patients.
It was two weeks after she was born when Lent’s parents woke to find her blue in the face in her crib. After rushing her to the hospital, Lent was diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula — a hole between the trachea and esophagus. At the hospital, Lent had to undergo surgery and several times during the process she stopped breathing. Doctors told her family she would likely not develop normally, neither mentally nor physically. However, Lent proved them wrong.
“I believe in life you are dealt 52 cards,” Lent said. “Sometimes you get dealt high cards and sometimes you get low cards. And you play the hand you are dealt.”
She said, for her, the Children’s Miracle Network was a high card.
Audrey was not the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital patient to speak on behalf of the organization. For the first two hours of the event, families who received treatment at Cottage Hospital had the chance to tell their stories and dance with the group.
Fundraising for the event was done on an individual basis, with students sharing links on their social media and with family and friends. Throughout the night, payments were made through Venmo or cash. Donations can still be made on the dance marathon’s website.
There were various activities for dancers to take part in throughout the night. The night was broken up into two hour sections, each with a theme and costume to keep the night upbeat and fun.
“It’s fun and kind of a challenge to see how long I can keep it up,” child development sophomore Elise Mahaffey said.
Lessons from the Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Team and Cal Poly Line Dancing Club kept participants engaged and learning new steps.
While the attendees learned to line dance, $500 was raised in under five minutes.
Guest DJs Shek Republic and Teflon John blasted tunes during the neon-themed hours, where the room was filled with glow sticks as SLO GLO performed.
To keep energy up from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., Zumba instructors stopped by to break a sweat in 80s workout gear.
The floor shook throughout the night as people danced, laughed and came together for the kids who couldn’t.
Stegall hopes to continue Cal Poly’s involvement in the Miracle Network Dance Marathon.
“It’s going to change this campus,” Stegall said. “I really want to see it grow and see the heart of Cal Poly change and really be such a partner with [Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital].”