Dance Marathon kicked off its 21st year at USC this week with the opening of registration for their 2019 event. After hitting the million dollar mark in donations for the first time as a school in 2018, the organization is eager to keep the momentum going.
Dance Marathon, an event where participants dance all day to raise money for the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital's Child Life program, is the largest student organization at USC. Although their main event isn't until the spring semester, fundraising kicks off in the fall.
Students can register as individuals or as teams to participate in Dance Marathon. It costs $20 to register,, with many students accessing discount codes. Participants must raise at least $119 to attend the main event, the same number of beds in Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.
Last spring, USCDM raised more than $1 million, a 46 percent increase in donations from the previous year. That growth won the organization a national leadership award.
With participation expected to continue to rise, the organization has decided to look into finding a new venue to hold next year's event.
“I think it’s absolutely incredible that we can say essentially we have outgrown our old venue, the fact that we have so many students really buying into this cause,” said vice president of finance for USCDM Alex St. Pierre.
In past years, the event was held at the Strom Thurmond Wellness & Fitness Center.
A new venue hasn't been determined yet, and St. Pierre stressed nothing has been finalized. Possible options could include athletic venues, he said.
Co-director of recruitment for USCDM Caitlin Kicklighter said that the event's organizers want to diversify their participants and market to USC as a whole.
“We’re really known for being a sorority girl event and we’re really trying to steer away from that. We love the sorority women that join in because they obviously have done a lot for our organization, but we’re really trying to branch out and kind of unify the campus behind one cause," Kicklighter said.
Second-year early childhood education student Meagan Kiser got involved through her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, and set her individual donation goal at $350.
“I just think it’s important to give back. I also think it’s a great way to way to raise awareness and it’s a lot of fun on campus," Kiser said.
Third-year environmental science student and current USCDM staffer Caitlin Cruz's interest was sparked during her freshman year. She went to a meeting and met a "miracle family," a local family whose child was treated at Palmetto Health Children's, and "immediately fell in love with it."
"We know that everything we do is for something," Cruz said. "Like we get to see the impact we have on the kids, like we make their time in the hospital a lot easier.”