Joe McElveen / The Daily Gamecock

Dance Marathon bounces back after fundraising push

USC Dance Marathon came up $11,873 short of the $119,000 goal for Forever to Thee Kids Day, but the staff spirits are still high as they prepare for the main event on March 2. During Forever to Thee Kids Day, Dance Marathon staff raised $107,127.

“We are all extremely proud of the $107,000 that we were able to raise in 24 hours; that is something that’s unprecedented for a lot of programs and something that we are very proud to give to the children’s hospital,” said Kaity Lynch, president of Dance Marathon and fourth-year marketing student.

Last year’s Forever to Thee Kids Day goal was $100,000, 10 percent of the event's ultimate $1 million goal. This year, Dance Marathon is shot for $1,119,000, a nine percent increase from the $1,025,171 raised in 2018.

Last fall, Dance Marathon hosted its first fall fundraising push called A Day of Promises where they raised over $50,000. Since registration opened, students and organizations have raised money to cover their registration and to go above and beyond in fundraising.

“Throughout the entire year, we fundraise on our own, whether it be emails, texting friends, posting on our social media, getting creative in that respect — whatever ways we can to bring in money,” said Alex St. Pierre, vice president of finance for Dance Marathon and fourth-year accounting student. “And also, in doing so, spreading awareness. I think making sure that people understand the cause and tying that connection into our asks is what makes people really want to contribute to the cause once they feel connected to that.”

In 2016, Dance Marathon set a $650,000 goal after hitting the $500,000 milestone the year before. The organization raised just over $520,000, not enough to fully fund the Child Life program like they hoped.

"Coming down from such an incredible year was something that I know stuck with a lot of the staff members that year who didn’t come close to that $650,000,” St. Pierre said. “And then the following year was my sophomore year. The goal was $700,000 and they hit $703,000, so really close.”

After not reaching their goal on Forever to Thee Kids Day, staff members like fundraising director Meghann Lange tried to focus on the positive aspects of the day.

“I definitely think there are struggles when you don’t meet a goal, especially when it’s a public goal, but we still raised over $100,000 for the hospital at the end of the day in 24 hours, and I think that’s something to be super proud of and I think everyone feels really accomplished about that,” said Lange, a fourth-year exercise science student.

According to the staff, Dance Marathon particularly emphasized campus involvement this year and partnered with different student organizations in addition to sororities and fraternities. 

“We had our highest campus involvement of any single day ... of any year that we’ve been an organization, so that’s something to be super, super proud of, and I’m really glad that the campus felt our mission,” Lange said.

St. Pierre anticipates plenty of hard work leading up to the main event so they can reach their ultimate goal, because most of their funds will be raised in the final days.

“It’s really exciting that we are higher fundraising-wise than we've ever been at this point in time,” St. Pierre said. “However, it’s definitely in order to increase our fundraising overall total like we expect it to, or that we’re hoping to. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, a lot of late nights, a lot of what it has been pretty much the entire year.”

Staff morale has not dropped as they put together the final preparations for Main Event. Instead, they are focusing on making a small difference at the children’s hospital.

“I mean, for us, goals are obviously something we set because we want to reach them,” Lynch said. “But we still celebrate every single dollar that is fundraised and give it to our children’s hospital, because no matter what that monetary amount is, no matter how high it is, it’s still making a difference and we’re still incredibly proud of the work that we are able to do.”

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