Sydney Mason is a 2019 committee member of Public Relations Committee.
As dancers near the tenth hour of the Marathon, the drooping eyelids, sore feet, and tired legs are beginning to set in. As hard as it can be to keep up the will to stand as the second half of the Marathon approaches, it’s important to remember what everyone is here for.
Cheryl Phillips is a member of the 2019 Public Relations Committee.
The 2019 24-hour Dance Marathon is officially underway, and our dancers are ready for the many hours ahead, all For The Kids. However, preparations for the marathon began long before the dancers even arrived. While fundraising and planning have been going on for months, the physical set-up of Fetzer gym began at 5 pm on Thursday evening. At this time, the production team arrived and the gym began to be transformed. The main stage was one of the first projects to tackle, and the crew wasted no time, unloading the truck of supplies and setting up framework for the site of multiple a capella performances, dances and later, the KCC talent show. At the same time, members from multiple committees arrived to decorate the gym space with colorful banners to brighten up and make Fetzer look fun. Every Saturday since last semester, CFTK members have gotten together to hand-paint these beautiful banners, all in preparation for this one, huge day.
Setup also included many tasks that may seem small, but all add up to allow the marathon to function and run smoothly. Committee members taped banners, blew up balloons, set up tables and prepped the downstairs area for dancers to get work done or just relax away from all the excitement for a moment. Marathon setup required the time and effort of every committee member, but could not have happened without the executive board. The board members devoted time to every setup shift to direct committee members and make sure setup functioned as efficiently as possible. Without them, the marathon would not be possible. All the work that was put in during setup was vital to turning Fetzer gym into a storybook-perfect setting for the 21st UNC Dance Marathon FTK!
Sara Hall is a member of the 2019 Public Relations Committee
1. Pack LOTS of extra clothes
Nothing will rejuvenate you more than throwing on a new, fresh t-shirt a couple of hours into the Dance Marathon.
2. Bring a couple of tennis balls
Odds are you are underestimating the sheer joy that you’ll feel once you start rolling your feet out with tennis balls to help soothe the ache. These are quite possibly the best way to keep your feet feeling alive and well for the full 24 hours.
3. Get prepared to eat. A LOT.
Carolina For The Kids makes sure that our dancers are well fed during the full 24 hours. Between several meals and tons of snacks, you’ll never find yourself hungry during Dance Marathon.
4. Bond with your dancer team!
When morale is low and you’re just ready to go to sleep, you’ll need a solid group of individuals to lean on. Your dancer team will be there through the ups and downs, and these will be some of the people that you find yourself closest to at the end of the marathon.
5. Pace your Red Bull intake
Yes, caffeine will be almost necessary during your 24 hours of standing. However, make sure you don’t try and chug three Red Bulls within an hour. Do that and you’ll find yourself hitting a major wall not to long after. Make sure to space out your caffeine so you can feel like your most energized self for as long as possible.
6. Be prepared for Family Hour and Total Reveal to bring not only you, but everyone individual in the room to tears.
When you see the faces that you are helping and watch the year-long fundraising finally come to fruition after standing an entire day, you can’t help but become overwhelmed with emotions. So grab your tissues and be prepared to shed a couple of tears.
Ryan Carp and Cheryl Phillips are members of the 2019 Public Relations Committee
Whenever we talk to people that haven’t heard of Carolina For The Kids or the UNC Dance Marathon, they sometimes are confused by the name of the Dance Marathon – after all, it isn’t a long-distance race, nor do we dance the entire time. Their confusion got us thinking, however – how does the UNC Dance Marathon compare to an actual marathon? So, this is our assessment of how the UNC Dance Marathon stacks up with a 26.2-mile race.
Pre-race preparations = Pre-Marathon preparations
Before a marathon begins, runners make sure they’re fully hydrated, stretch to warm up their muscles, and get mentally focused for the race. They’ve been training for months in advance to ensure that they can achieve their goals. In the same way, everyone involved in the Dance Marathon has been fundraising and planning events, all culminating in this huge occasion. Before the Dance Marathon, dancers will pack the supplies they need, stretch to warm up their legs for the coming stand, and mentally prepare themselves for everything that lies ahead.
The start of the race = The start of the Marathon
At the beginning of a marathon, the runners all line up at the starting line and take off at the sound of a starter pistol, a buzzer, or an electronic prompter. At the Dance Marathon, everyone stands up in unison to officially kick off the 24-hour event. This moment in both types of Marathons is an important symbol of the beginning of a time that will change the lives of all the people involved.
Your fellow runners = Your fellow dancers
In a marathon and at the Dance Marathon, participants are surrounded by hundreds of their peers who share their dedication to the cause or to their sport, their months of preparation by training or fundraising, and their commitment to the physical and mental challenge that they are currently facing. Both runners and dancers feel the uplifting spirit of those around them who have been waiting for this moment just as long as they have.
In-race hydration = Meals and snacks at the Marathon
Over the course of a marathon, runners rehydrate themselves by drinking water or sports drinks; this fluid intake helps them to maintain their performance level throughout the race. This might seem insignificant, but is actually vital to a runner’s results. Meals and snacks at the Dance Marathon play the same role for dancers – they revitalize our bodies and our spirits, giving us the energy and focus we need to stay physically and mentally strong. Since 24 hours is a significant amount of time to not only stay awake, but also to stay standing, food and drink are an important part of what keeps the dancers going.
Fans cheering on the runners = Morale captains and Motivators
At marathons, fans in attendance support the runners through cheers, high-fives, and words of encouragement throughout the race, helping them perform to the best of their abilities. At the Dance Marathon, Morale captains and Motivators take up this role; through their boundless energy and endless support, Morale captains and Motivators give dancers the extra mental boost that they need to keep standing For The Kids.
The last mile = Family Hour
When running a marathon, the last mile is both the most anticipated and the most rewarding – with the finish line in sight, the runners are extremely close to accomplishing the goal that they’ve worked so hard to achieve. The last leg of the race can be so uplifting, and it gives a new burst of energy and motivation to finish strong. The last hour of the Dance Marathon, Family Hour, shares these characteristics, as the stories of the patients and families of UNC Children’s leave an indelible impression on the dancers that hear them. Family Hour is encouragement to dancers that their work and dedication does not go unnoticed, and that all the time they have put in has added up to something that is so worthwhile.
Crossing the finish line = Total Reveal
For marathon runners, crossing the finish line marks the end of their journey and the accomplishment of their ultimate goal. For dancers at the Dance Marathon, Total Reveal (the announcement of the year’s fundraising total) is their “finish line,” signifying the conclusion of the Dance Marathon and quantifying the impact that CFTK will have on the patients and families of UNC Children’s. This moment is exciting to both dancers and runners, as they have finally accomplished that for which they have worked.
Post-race celebration = Sit Down
Just as runners celebrate their achievements and catch their breath after crossing the finish line, dancers can celebrate their hard work and dedication when they finally sit down together at the conclusion of the Dance Marathon. Dancers have a moment to relax after their full day of standing For The Kids.
Post-race recovery = Post-Marathon recovery
After finishing a marathon, runners replenish themselves by eating, rehydrating, and resting. They get to leave the race knowing that they have completed something they can be proud of. The same is true for dancers after the Dance Marathon; physically exhausted and mentally drained, many dancers choose to recover with a long night’s sleep, dreaming about the memories they made and the lives they affected in the last 24 hours. They can sleep happy, having just seen the great impact that they can make on a child or family in need.
Ryan Carp is a committee member on the Public Relations Committee
On March 22nd, 2019, hundreds of UNC students will step into Fetzer Hall for their first UNC Dance Marathon, standing for 24 hours to support the patients and families of UNC Children’s. I talked to two of these first-time dancers, Miranda Black and Emily Stolzenbach, to get a better understanding of the perspective of new dancers heading into this year’s Dance Marathon.
Miranda and Emily both share a passion for the cause that CFTK represents – a passion that led them to become a dancer at the 2019 UNC Dance Marathon. For Emily, her connection for CFTK partially comes from her desired career path; “I am aspiring to be a pediatrician, so I am very passionate about children's healthcare. Therefore, CFTK was a great organization for me to get involved in.” Miranda also felt closely connected to CFTK’s cause; “I adore kids, and I love the idea of standing for those who don’t get to sit down and rest. By putting ourselves in the shoes of those who are suffering, we can understand their endurance on a new level.” As a result, Miranda and Emily decided to dance at this year’s Dance Marathon.
Miranda and Emily are both incredibly excited to experience the UNC Dance Marathon for the first time. “I’m looking forward to the sunrise walk in Kenan Stadium and all the fun activities that the committees have been planning,” said Miranda, “but most of all, I’m looking forward to hearing people’s stories of how CFTK has directly impacted them. I love hearing people’s stories, and knowing that I had the chance to be a small part of that impact means the whole world to me.” Emily shares this sentiment – “I am also really looking forward to hearing from the children and families of UNC Children's because it makes our fundraising efforts so much more rewarding when you get to see actual lives it will impact.”
With this excitement, however, comes some first-time nerves. “I am a little nervous about the 24-hour time commitment,” said Emily. “I can honestly say I have never stayed up for 24 hours in a row, so this will be a big first for me!” Miranda is also facing some jitters related to the nature of the Dance Marathon; “I’m a little nervous that I’m going to have trouble standing up for 24 hours.” Nevertheless, Miranda doesn’t see the Marathon’s difficulty as prohibitive or overly daunting – instead, she and Emily view the Marathon as a tremendous opportunity for learning and personal growth.
Overall, Miranda and Emily embody the emotional state and perspective of first-time dancers at the UNC Dance Marathon: somewhat apprehensive and unsure about what to expect, but mostly ecstatic to participate in this UNC tradition for the very first time. We hope that the 2019 UNC Dance Marathon is an experience that Emily, Miranda, and the rest of the first-time dancers will never forget.
Hope-Anne Elias is a member of the 2019 Public Relations Committee
At the UNC Dance Marathon, you know them as the supplier of the green glasses: the flashy fashion statement that has quickly become a Marathon staple. Today, we’re taking a closer look at Coastal Credit Union because their partnership with CFTK goes well above and beyond their famous accessory.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Creighton Blackwell, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Community Engagement at Coastal Credit Union.
HE: When did Coastal Credit Union become partners with Carolina For the Kids, and how was this connection made?
CB: This will be the 6th year that we have partnered with CFTK. The connection was made by our current President and CEO of The Chamber For A Greater Chapel Hill – Carrboro, Aaron Nelson. Aaron is also an alumni of UNC and former Student Government President and knew the positive impact that CFTK and Dance Marathon made its communities. He also knew that I had been working for the betterment of communities for years and thought that there may be some synergies and partnering. He made the connection and we built the partnership from that point on.
HE: Why does Coastal continue to work with us? What is your favorite thing about working alongside Carolina For the Kids?
CB: It’s about the impact and sincerity of your mission that makes us continue to work with CFTK. We are committed to our communities and the work of nonprofits is vital to its sustainability. We have the honor of working with nonprofits of all sizes and causes, but the fact that this is completely student led and touches the lives that it does is truly amazing. Working with the students and seeing the smiles on the kids that are impacted are my favorite things about working alongside CFTK (especially since I am a proud alumni and I’m also happy to come back to campus and help lift up our students and UNC as much as possible!)
HE: Coastal is known by dancers for giving away the green glasses at Dance Marathon, but how else have you contributed and helped Carolina For The Kids achieve our goals through the years?
CB: I also sit on the CFTK Board of Directors and help to connect CFTK with other businesses and organizations that hopefully helps them achieve their goals. We consistently involve members of CFTK in our Chamber of Commerce activities and meetings to increase their network amongst other potential partners. We also do financial education sessions to help develop everyone to be better financial consumers!
(Earlier in the semester, Coastal demonstrated their dedication to financial education by hosting a Financial Reality Fair at UNC. Similar to a life-sized game of Life, the Reality Fair simulated future financial concerns, with an ultimate goal of teaching students about the power of budgeting and smart spending.)
HE: Lastly, why the green glasses?
CB: You can’t ignore the glow! Just like you can’t ignore the impact that CFTK and Coastal makes on our communities! See from our lens and watch the glow get bigger and stronger!
Creighton is certainly right; the green glow definitely makes a statement at the Marathon, just like Coastal Credit Union and CFTK do in the community. Thank you very much to Creighton for participating in this interview, which I hope sheds some light on our partnership with Coastal Credit Union, the generous corporation behind the green glasses.
Hope-Anne Elias is a committee member on the 2019 Public Relations Committee
You’ve waited all year for this, fundraising and volunteering FTK, and finally it’s time again for the Marathon. Here are some fun things you can expect during the first 8 hours of the 2019 UNC Dance Marathon to get you even more pumped to stand!
1. Stand up!
As soon as the clock strikes 7:00, we begin the Marathon by standing up collectively in Fetzer Gym. Morale kicks us off to an enthusiastic start by teaching a CFTK-themed line dance, bringing us all together to warm up for the remaining hours of the Marathon.
2. A Cappella groups and other student performances
With special guest appearances from groups like the Achordants, Cadence, the Ukulele Ensemble, Carolina Jump Rope, and more, you will never be bored at the Marathon! Not only are many of the performances interactive as well as energizing, they also help you forget that you’re standing. These performances kick off during hour 2, but occur all throughout the Marathon.
These are some snapshots of performances from last year; they absolutely blew me away!
3. Committee Dances
During this time, committees also show off their moves. If you’re a committee member, there’s a good chance you’ll spend some time during the evening practicing and perfecting your routine, which is tons of fun! Make sure you catch these stars during the wee hours of the Marathon.
4. Optional Study Hall
If you’ve got a paper to finish or an exam to study for, the wee hours of the morning during Dance Marathon are ideal. There is usually a quiet hall with tables in Fetzer that serves as a retreat for people who want to focus on homework. I highly recommend getting any necessary work done earlier into the Marathon, so you don’t have to miss exciting events later on during the day!
Fuel up for the rest of the night with caffeine and delicious food! All of the meals at Dance Marathon are outstanding and help keep you going strong!
6. Sports on Hooker Fields
Nothing wakes you up in the middle of the night better than a breath of fresh air, which is why we all go out to Hooker Fields! There will be plenty of fun activities to do with your friends; last year, we played glow-in-the-dark Capture the Flag, and this year is a surprise!
7. Games, Crafts, and Hedgehogs!
Throughout the night, rest assured there will be no shortage of activities to keep you entertained and energized. While Gym A is typically reserved for performances, Gym B is ever-changing throughout the Marathon. If you’d like a creative outlet during the night, there are always numerous craft opportunities available. There also may be fun group games in store like Minute to Win it. And let us not forget the ADORABLE hedgehogs that come to visit, but they’ll be here during the last 8 hours of the Marathon, so be on the lookout!
8. DJ Time
Of course, it wouldn’t be Dance Marathon if there wasn’t dancing involved. Get hype with some kickin’ music from DJ PDogg, and dance your drowsiness away!
That’s all for the first 8 hours, folks. Stay tuned for the next update; the Marathon only gets better from here!
Ryan Carp is a committee member on the 2019 Public Relations Committee.
With the 2019 UNC Dance Marathon less than a month away, Carolina For The Kids’ 11 committees are hard at work preparing for the organization’s 24-hour marquee event. However, it is never too early to start planning for the future – specifically, the 2019-20 school year. For any dancers that are interested in joining a CFTK committee next year, we’d like to explore the benefits of being a CFTK committee member, based on the experiences of several current committee members from across Carolina For The Kids.
There are many reasons why UNC students decide to join a CFTK committee. Sophomore Meighan Parsh, for example, wanted to build upon her past history with related organizations; “my involvement started when I was in eighth grade with my high school's Dance Marathon program,” said Meighan. “I spent multiple years on the board of directors…so I always knew that I wanted to continue in college.” Like Meighan, first-year Nathan Vance felt a deep connection to the cause that Carolina For The Kids advocates for. “I wanted to get involved in any way that I could, and I felt like a committee was the perfect way to do that – allowing me to play to my strengths while achieving a goal bigger than myself or anything that I could provide on my own.”
Nathan’s desire to “play to [his] strengths” reflects one of the core benefits to joining a CFTK committee: the ability to utilize your talents/passions and develop new skills to help the patients and families at UNC Children’s. First-year Tim Lange, for instance, became a member of the Formal Affairs committee (responsible for planning the Benefit Reception and F-Tee-K Golf Tournament) because of its alignment with his skills and experience; “I did a lot of event planning and coordinating with various groups to put on some pretty large events [in high school],” said Tim, “so I thought that my skill set matched what I would be doing as a committee member.” Nathan Vance also joined a committee that aligned with his passions: Hospital and Family Relations. “I knew that I wanted to engage with the community that I was trying to help on a personal level, playing with the kids and building relationships with the families.” For Nathan, “the most fulfilling thing in the world is to see a smile on a kid’s face or to provide comfort to families in need,” which is why he decided to join the CFTK committee that builds relations with families, doctors, nurses, and hospital administration. Carolina For The Kids’ 11 committees span a wide variety of skills and interests, meaning that there will likely be a committee that is right for you.
In addition, joining a CFTK committee deepens your individual level of involvement with Carolina For The Kids, giving you new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the patients & families we serve. As Tim Lange stated, “being on a committee exposes you even more to some of the ways that [CFTK] benefits the patients and families in the hospital (such as Parents’ Night Out and Pediatric Playroom), and you really develop a personal connection to the cause and the people we benefit.” Being a committee member does require a higher level of commitment and dedication, but with this responsibility comes the reward of seeing your hard work directly impact the patients & families of UNC Children’s – and the Carolina community – over the course of the year.
Lastly, beyond the effect that you can have on CFTK and the cause we represent as a committee member, joining a committee is also an incredibly satisfying personal experience. According to Meighan Parsh, “CFTK has become my second family here at UNC, and I have made so many friends during my time on my committees.” By working together over the course of the school year, committee members form close personal bonds – bonds that are strengthened through the collective experience of the UNC Dance Marathon.
In summary, becoming a Carolina For The Kids committee member is an enriching experience on multiple levels. By joining a CFTK committee, dancers become more deeply involved with Carolina For The Kids and more closely connected to the cause that CFTK represents, all while building relationships that will last a lifetime. Therefore, as you prepare for the 2019 UNC Dance Marathon, keep 2020 in the back of your mind and think about joining a CFTK committee next year!
Sydney Mason is a member of the 2019 Public Relations Committee
The UNC Dance Marathon has its roots back in 1997, when alumnus Michael Bucy brought the idea to Chapel Hill. He was inspired by Pennsylvania State University’s 46-hour Dance Marathon, and in February of 1999, his dream of a Dance Marathon at UNC became reality, along with about seventy-five students. Together, they raised $40,000 for UNC Children’s.
Since then, the Dance Marathon has grown into a huge, year-long operation that brings together hundreds of students, campus organizations, volunteers and of course, patients, families, doctors, nurses, and more at hospitals around the state. So how did Bucy and a group of seventy-five students turn this tradition into what it is today?
The Marathon has grown each year since its inception. With it, the reach of CFTK also grew. In 2000, the For the Kids Fund was founded. This fund meant that every penny raised goes straight to the hospital. It helps cover what insurance doesn’t, from gas cards to bills to meals.
In 2004, five years after Bucy brought a Dance Marathon to UNC, over five-hundred dancers were surprised with a visit from Roy Williams, and over $170,000 went to the hospital. By 2007, the FTK fund had donated over a million dollars.
In 2010, arguably the best part of the Marathon was invented. Kid co-captains became a part of the now eleven year tradition. They have brought smiles and some awesome talents to the Marathon ever since. Nine kid co-captains were featured in 2010. The next year, there were twenty-four.
For all the runners out there, fast forward to 2012. This year featured the first annual Kilometers For The Kids, a 5K, that brings students and community members together to run throughout campus. Since then, it has become an annual tradition.
In 2016, the UNC Dance Marathon passed a huge milestone, achieving their biggest fundraising year to date with over $610,000, and the second year in a row to see an annual total of over half a million dollars.
As of now, the FTK Fund has donated over six million dollars to UNC Children’s. Over the years, thousands and thousands of students have filled Fetzer. So this year, when you’re petting hedgehogs or walking to Kenan for the sunrise or cheering on the kid co-captains, thank Bucy and the other seventy-five students who helped bring Dance Marathon to UNC!
Sara Hall is a member of the 2019 Public Relations Committee
With the UNC Dance Marathon less than a month away, the idea of standing for 24 hours may seem increasingly daunting. Maybe you’re questioning going through with something that you signed up for nearly six months ago.
Despite what you may be feeling right now, the Marathon will be some of your most memorable moments during your time here at UNC. From the relationships you cultivate to the stories you hear from families directly affected by your fundraising efforts, you’ll leave the Marathon already looking forward to the next year.
More specifically, here are the top 10 reasons why you should do the DM thing!
1. The Kid Co-Captain talent show will leave you speechless
2. Family Hour will remind you of every reason why you signed up for the UNC Dance Marathon and why you continue to stand.
3. Carolina For The Kids will make sure you get fed well throughout the full 24 hours.
4. You get to experience a completely empty Kenan Stadium during sunrise to refuel your energy.
5. You get to see some of UNC’s best talent all in one night.
6. You have the chance to hang out and play with some of the very children that you’re standing for.
7. Bonding with people for 24 straight hours will give you friendships for a lifetime.
8. Watching the Executive Board reveal the grand total at the end of the Marathon is one of the most gratifying feelings you’ll ever experience.
9. The feeling of sitting down at the end of reveal is indescribable.
10. Because kids deserve to be kids.
We look forward to welcoming everyone to this year’s UNC Dance Marathon in a few short weeks, and we can’t wait to watch all of everyone’s hard work come together in the best 24 hours of the year!