The Daily Gamecock

Devoted dancer participates in marathon for final year

Peninger supports cause that combines passions for children, dance

Dance Marathon kicks off tonight at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, and one USC student who has danced all her life can't wait.

Amanda Peninger, a fourth-year psychology student, has participated in Dance Marathon every year since she has been at USC.

"I'm excited," Peninger said about the weekend's competition. "This year will be different because there will be no sitting encouraged and no more shifts, so everyone will dance for the full 24 hours."

Making it the entire time shouldn't be a problem for Peninger. She danced for 12 hours in the event her freshman year and the full 24 hours during the other two years.

She said she enjoys Dance Marathon because, donating all proceeds to Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, it puts together her love of dance and giving back to kids. Peninger estimated she has raised over $950 in the fouryears she has participated.

"It's both of my passions combined," Peninger said.

Originally from Mount Pleasant, Peninger started dancing when she was 2 years old, and she began volunteering to work with children in middle school.

During her senior year at Wando High School, she started "Dancing Pandas," a dance therapy program for kids at the Medical University of South Carolina's Children Hospital. Peninger said she got to see the benefits of the

College of Charleston's Dance Marathon and knew it was something she wanted to be a part of in college.

Now that she's in college, Peninger only has time to dance when she goes home during breaks. She's only on campus two days a week for two classes and is taking three more online.

Most of her time is spent working as a nanny.

"I've been employed throughout my college career," Peninger said. "Last year I worked 38 to 40 hours a week."

And yet she maintains a 3.75 GPA.

After she graduates, Peninger wants to be a special education teacher or an occupational therapist.

"My main focus is working with kids with special physical, mental and emotional needs," she said. "I really love kids, and they're not as complicated as adults."

Peninger will be dancing with Morale, the group that leads other dancers, for her last year as a Dance Marathon participant.

"I'm not sad it's the last one," she said. "I'll still take adult dance classes after school."