The 25th annual USC Dance Marathon raised $788,645 for the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center on March 25.
300 staff members and upwards of 700 supporters participated throughout the day. Katie Torbert, the president of USC Dance Marathon, attributes the success of this year’s event to the organization’s longevity and credibility.
“Obviously with COVID and 2021, we had to alter our event to Greene Street,” Torbert said. “But since then, even during the COVID year, our engagement was still so high with campus, and I think it’s a testament to us being an (organization) for 25 years and just the legacy we’ve kind of built on campus.”
The organization starts fundraising in October on Child Health Day and hosts events in November and February to spread awareness of children's health and raise money. All the efforts held throughout the year lead up to a final day of fundraising, Main Event.
All funds and donations Dance Marathon receives from each event go directly to Prisma Health Children's Hospital in the Midlands. Over the past 25 years, Dance Marathon has accumulated almost $8 million dollars for the hospital.
"You can really feel the difference that you're making with every dollar you raise," Regan Brown, a first-year pre-business student, said.
A portion of the Main Event's participants are divided into two groups, Ignite and Morale. The two teams help teach participants about the organization and energize the crowd with line dancing throughout the day.
Caroline Blair, a first-year pre-business student, joined Ignite to help make a difference for families who have children in the hospital.
“Growing up, I was in the hospital a lot (and) my brother was in the hospital a lot just for various things,” Blair said. “I knew I wanted to get involved with something related to that, so it's really cool to see.”
Katelyn Giangregorio, a second-year public relations student on the Morale team, says she enjoys Dance Marathon because it brings people together.
“I think it's really special that we get to give back to people that have gone through so much at such a young age,” Giangregorio said. “When I first heard about (USCDM), I immediately knew I wanted to get involved and to help these kids out, and I think it's so special that we get to put on such a huge event and so many people come out and get involved.”
In addition to the Ignite and Morale groups, the majority of Main Event participants are made up of USC sports teams, fraternities and sororities who create smaller fundraising groups and try to receive as many donations as possible.
Corporate sponsors, such as Aflac, Blue Cross Blue Shield and, for the first time, the Beamer Family Foundation, match each donation up to a certain amount per person.
“Some people raise thousands of dollars on their own and with 300 people in there, that adds up,” Karly Pickel, the director of hospital relations for Dance Marathon, said. “So, it comes from a lot of different places — lots of corporate support and support from the community and then just all of our individual work kind of adding up together.”
Torbert said there are so many things she loves about USCDM that she can't pick a favorite.
“The past three main events, including this one, have honestly been some of the best days of my life,” Torbert said. “All the people in this room are filled with so much love and so much joy. To see us all poured out in 14 hours and just the labor of love that this event has been throughout this year and just seeing everyone's part of a family, that's one of the most rewarding parts of my job."