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Auburn University Dance Marathon Raises Over a Half Million!

By: Kirby Wallace (Assistant Director of Campaigns)

As dancers entered the transformed Student Center for their check-in, the morning of February 11th, they had no clue what the next 14-hours would entail. Tears would be shed, memories would be made, and most of all lives would be changed. After almost a year of anticipation, preparation, and fundraising AUDM staff would finally get the chance to see all their hard work come to life.

The morning began with staff members running registration tables as our 1255 participants showed up to receive their color team gear and get their first taste of the day ahead. As the ballroom began to fill with colored AUDM shirts, fanny packs, tutus, and buttons galore the time would soon arrive for Morale’s big entrance.

Leading up to Morale’s entrance, an Auburn-themed, football hype-video was played to pump up the crowd. This jumbotron worthy video was followed by morale members running, jumping, and screaming through the sea of dancers as they took the stage to unveil the 2017 line-dance. Dancers watched in awe as morale seamlessly danced their hearts out to a mash-up of popular hits. Little did these dancers know that by the end of the day they themselves would too master this routine.

Throughout the day, our Miracle Families spoke about how the Children’s Hospital at Midtown Medical Center at Columbus Regional Health and AUDM have impacted their lives. Everyone took to one knee to honor these families. Speeches from parents accompanied by their precious children reminded everyone of why they are standing for 14 hours. A large variety of illnesses have affected these families, for example, the Wheelis girl who have Type 1 Diabetes, the adorable Slade triplets who were born premature, and Parker who was born with essentially no brain. All of these children continue to push past their diagnoses and reach for the stars!

In Room 2222 of the Student Center the party never stopped. AUDM’s Silent Disco was once again a huge hit. During this activity, everyone puts on headphones which play the same song. Everyone is jamming out in their heads, singing along, and working up a sweat. Take off your headphones, and you are in a room of lip-syncing and dance moves. Put your headphones back on, and once again you are at the party of the year. This event was offered three times during the day and even the Miracle Children got their own private disco. Black-lights, high-tech head-phones, and a disco ball made this activity a fan favorite of many participants.

One of the most exciting parts of AUDM this year was the “Iron Bowl” themed section of the day. The University of Alabama held their Dance Marathon the same day as Auburn so of course we had to have a challenge between the two rivals. The competition was who could raise more in one hour. The cheerleaders, majorettes, Aubie, and even one of the Miracle Children, Parker, took to the stage to pump up the crowd with Auburn cheers. Nothing was sweeter then when everyone found out that Auburn raised $19,060.83 and the University of Alabama came in at $17, 931.01. And of course, is there any other way to celebrate an Auburn victory than with rolling some toilet paper? Of course not! Dancers rolled the ballroom as a victory over Bama for the kids was celebrated.

One of the most exciting, new things at DM this year was the gigantic gong which was struck every time anyone raised $100. Every single time the gong was hit the room was filled with cheers because everyone knew that we were that much closer to the goal.

The Miracle Children got to show off their talent in the afternoon talent/fashion show. Acts included a piano solo, sing along, and a few dance routines. The fashion show followed as the girls rocked looks from Entourage Boutique.

One of the most anticipated moments of AUDM is the presentation of the Martin Thiele Award. This is given to someone who embodies Martin’s passion and spirit for this organization. This year’s award was given to Senior, Kasey Rumbarger, who served as the Director of Morale. It was a touching moment as Martin’s family got to give emotional Rumbarger the award. Martin’s girlfriend, Emily Cunningham, fellow Miracle Child, was touched as the award was presented. Cunningham served as a morale member this year and shared her story of her journey with battling her own illness.

Other awards were given out for the highest fundraising for teams and individuals. Alpha Tau Omega, Alpha Omicron Pi, Camp War Eagle, Freshman Leadership Program’s PAL, and individuals Riley Somers and Gage Fenwick were among some of the many recognized for their achievements.

AUDM would not be possible without the support of our sponsor Love’s Travel Stops! This company goes above and beyond for this organization. We are so grateful for their generosity. This year Love’s presented AUDM with a check of $15,000! We cannot begin to thank Love’s enough for all they do to impact our program and help us help these children!

After a day of fundraising, activities, and standing the last hour had finally approached. Rave hour is one of the most beloved portions of the day. The energy of the room is unbelievable as students leave it all on the dance floor awaiting the number reveal around midnight.

Finally, the time had come. Midnight arrived. Staffers’ nerves kicked in as their year of fundraising had all lead up to this very moment and this final number. It was out of everyone’s hands now as they prayed that a number 5 would be flipped, resulting in AUDM hitting their half a million-dollar goal.

Staff members came on stage with the much anticipated, giant signs which they would soon flip to reveal the total. The numbers began to flip and sure enough there was a 5!!! Dancers went crazy as staffers began to sob happy tears knowing what this number meant for the hospital and children. All the hard work had paid off as the grand total of $541,832.06 was flipped. None of this would have been possible without every single staffer, dancer, and donation given. AUDM is over the moon with a new, record total. Raising over half a million dollars is something the program could have only dreamed of!

Here’s to another unbelievable year of Dance Marathon and 14-hours that will never be forgotten.

We can’t wait for AUDM 2018!!! FTK & War Eagle!