Participants of USC Dance Marathon's annual 5K race ran covered head-to-toe in colorful powder as part of a 'color run' on Saturday, Feb. 26, paying tribute to a late 'Miracle Kid'.
According to the club's website, Dance Marathon is a nationwide philanthropic organization dedicated to raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Along with fundraising, one of the goals of USC Dance Marathon is to create a welcoming hospital environment for the kids.
"Whether it's having a doll that also gets an IV in it, or having information books that are fun and active or a wagon stretcher instead of having to go on a really scary stretcher," second-year public health student and External Productions Director of USC Dance Marathon Casey Wells said.
As the largest student philanthropic organization at USC, Dance Marathon has many events throughout the year, including the 5K run. The event is always dedicated to a Miracle Kid, which is a child affiliated with the Children's Miracle Network that is provided with the care needed.
This year, the Miracle Kid honored for the USC Dance Marathon 5K was the late Eli Adams.
“He went through his battles with cancer for a really long time and was a long-standing kid with us,” fourth-year biology student and President of USC Dance Marathon Meg Laurendeau said.
After fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) for his third time, Eli passed away in May 2020 at the age of 14.
Because of safety protocols from COVID-19, Dance Marathon hadn’t been able to officially commemorate his memories in a large event, but the organization was able to change the 5K's title to 'Beyond the BELIevable’ in honor of Adams, Laurendeau said.
“The letters are highlighted in ‘bELIevable’ for him,” Laurendeau said.
The intention behind the color run theme was to demonstrate Eli’s athletic, bubbly, competitive and charismatic personality.
“His mom told us that the best way to celebrate Eli was through a color run just because he was athletic, he was exciting and outgoing,” Laurendeau said.
Third-year economics and international studies student and Vice President of Finance of USC Dance Marathon Seth Hajzus said the colorfulness of the race spoke to Adams' personality and how "he was able to be this joy in anyone’s life.”
The race started on the corner of Greene Street across from Russell House and went through campus as well as parts of downtown Columbia. Over 100 runners and walkers alike registered for the event and about 100 people showed up, which Hajzus said was "really incredible."
“The runners took off and people who did not want to run — such as myself — walked behind them and got lapped by those runners,” Hajzus said.
Throughout the race route, there were 14 signs with a different picture of Eli in all 14 years of his life.
“So as you ran the 5K, you basically got to see Eli grow up and learn about who he was as a person," Hajzus said.
After the race, participants could buy t-shirts, snack on food from the Nacho Papi Food Truck and talk to people united for a similar cause.
“I loved just like seeing the atmosphere of people coming together,” Hajzus said. “The fact that we all have a common purpose and we were all there together just speaks volumes about how it doesn’t matter who you are as a person when you have a common purpose. It’s such a unifying factor.”
Upcoming events from USC Dance Marathon include “Play Like a Kid” on March 21 and “Main Event” on April 9. Play Like a Kid "celebrates the fun of being a kid," as Wells puts it, by celebrating all the reasons why Dance Marathon raises money and awareness for these kids.
Following that, Main Event is its biggest event: a 14-hour dance celebration after the year spent on raising money, attended by Miracle families.
To find out more information, visit uscdm.org.