USC's 24th annual dance marathon event raised a total of $931,016 for Prisma Health's Children's Hospital on April 9 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
These efforts contributed to USC Dance Marathon (USCDM) being announced this year's "partner of the year" by the larger Dance Marathon and Children's Miracle Network Hospital (CMNH) organizations. USCDM was chosen because of its exponential growth and involvement that is recognized nationally.
“This year ... we’ve done some really amazing things, broken so many records in fundraising — but also the atmosphere of our team this year is just incredible,” Katie Torbert, USCDM's chief of staff, said.
Child Health Day, an event in October, raised more than $71,000, allowing USC to be recognized as the highest-earning fundraising program on that day across the country.
Additionally, USC broke its record to raise more than $108,000 during its Days of Miracles in November and more than $90,000 on the “Forever To Thee Kids” day in February.
While some students chose to come individually as a "hero," USCDM is divided into two major groups, Ignite and Morale, for organizational leaders.
Ignite is catered towards first and second-years who want to learn more about the event, while Morale is catered towards people who have done Dance Marathon before and want a bigger role. There are color teams within both Ignite and Morale, that outside organizations such as Greek life or clubs can join and be a part of.
Haley Griffin, the head Ignite leader, said she became involved with Dance Marathon because she admired the cause and opportunities of the organization.
“I saw a lot of opportunities to be in positions where I could practice skills that would correlate to my job,” Griffin said."I really do feel like this experience starts at a very selfless place, and it turns into something that benefits you, without you realizing it's going to."
As a part of USCDM’s main event, Prisma Health Children’s Hospital recognized many children and their families as “miracle kids” and “miracle families,” representing their strength throughout their journey in the local hospital.
One child is named “champion” every year at each Children's Miracle Network Hospital. This child is the face and ambassador for the hospital, in hopes of advocating for and spreading awareness to children's hospitals.
This past year, Tap Priester was named the 2021 Children’s Miracle Network Hospital's Champion for Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Midlands.
Ultimately, many families of the miracle kids said they feel like the child life specialists that USCDM supports help make the hospital experience more positive.
The child life team made a photo book for the brother of one miracle kid, Lila Mozingo. The book explained to her brother why Mozingo was hooked up to machines.
Mozingo was born with down syndrome and a heart defect, but because of doctors and child life specialists at Prisma Health Children's Hospital, she now lives a fun and fulfilling life, according to Mozingo's mother, Padgett Mozingo.
"Every time we're in (the hospital) the child life specialists make her stay, or her visit, equally important to the extent that when we drive up in the parking lot, she's excited to go to the hospital instead of dreading it — like all of us would normally do," Mozingo said.
Dance Marathon is often a large time commitment with a 14-hour main event as well as other events throughout the year, but many students said they think of it as a worthwhile experience.
“It is hard work, but at the end of the day, the hard work is for a good thing,” design staff member Brinna Day said.