Just this weekend, USC’s Dance Marathon celebrated its 20th anniversary by raising over one million dollars for the Child Life program at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. The first president of Dance Marathon, Simon Herrmann, returned to Dance Marathon for the first time since his graduation in 1999 and witnessed this milestone for the organization.
“There was just a little group of us in the downstairs basement office with no phone and no windows, cranking away late in the night … and it’s grown into this huge organization,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann transferred to USC in his third year of college and joined a fraternity. After meeting with an executive in Greek life, Carl Johnson, they decided that they were going to make a difference on this campus.
Herrmann had seen Dance Marathons at other schools, and after an injury prevented him from playing Division 1 soccer, he found something completely different to do with his time. He started working to learn about and do more for others and worked with Johnson to find a group of interested students.
“We all came together there because we were all really wanting to do something outside ourselves,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann’s father was a prenatal geneticist and a doctor for young children, which inspired his son to want to do more for others.
“For me to see him have such a huge impact on a lot of kids, it was also something that I could do ... that I could kind of help out in a small way,” Herrmann said.
Around 300 students raised $55,000 in the first year for the Children’s Miracle Network, a record at the time for a first-year Dance Marathon on a college campus. This year, the million dollar milestone raised USC's Dance Marathon to No. 8 in the country for fundraising for a college organization.
“It's just something that really warms my heart,” Herrmann said. "It’s pretty cool that it has grown this big and helping out in a way that I never imagined.”
Carl Johnson expressed the importance of tradition in the huge event on Saturday.
“We wanted to start a new tradition that would build on the deep roots of the institution and grow and thrive like University of South Carolina did,” Johnson said.
It's gratifying for Herrmann to see how big Dance Marathon has grown and how it has become such a huge part of campus life.
"It's still one of the things I'm most proud of," he said.