Tears welled in Lauren Connell’s eyes while she sent fundraising emails in the Sigma Kappa sorority house Tuesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old nursing sophomore and Dance Marathon Family Relations captain got a text from the mother of her “miracle child,” a child treated at UF Health Shands Hospital who is an ambassador of the Children’s Miracle Network.
Connell’s miracle child, who was diagnosed with leukemia in August, was officially in remission, she said. The next day, Dance Marathon at UF surpassed its goal of $600,000.
“Everyday I wake up and am fighting for these kids to have their strength back,” Connell said.
From 8 a.m. Tuesday to 10:12 a.m. Wednesday, Dance Marathon raised $626,602.22during its 5th annual Transform Today event, said Public Relations Overall Director Caroline Rollosson.
Transform Today is an annual one-day fundraising effort that Dance Marathon hosts in the Fall. Students involved in the fundraiser work in the community and on campus toward a monetary goal, Rollosson said.
The goal increases every year. Last year’s Transform Today event surpassed its goal of $500,000 to raise $540,424.93, Rollosson said. In 2016, students raised $422,557.77 to beat their goal of $262,000.
Students who participate in Dance Marathon came up with creative methods to raise money in 26.2 hours, Rollosson said.
Students fundraised by publishing embarrassing posts on Facebook, offering rides to class, delivering coffee and getting a pie in the face, she said. One student let people throw eggs at him for a $2 donation on Plaza of the Americas Tuesday.
”This year we knew that when campus comes together we are capable of breaking new boundaries and unleashing our potential so we thought, ‘Why not believe in more this year?’” Rollosson said.
A child runs through the crowd of dancers during Dance Marathon at the O'Connell Center on Sunday. Dance Marathon is an event where volunteers must stay awake and on their feet for 26.2 hours.