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Saturday, January 28, 2023

We, the editorial board, wanted to address the last editorial published Monday entitled, “What does it mean to do it ‘For The Kids’?” Since its publication, we’ve received a number of questions regarding some of the topics we addressed. In addition, we received answers to some of our own questions posed in the editorial. We did not reach out to UF Health Shands Hospital specifically for Monday’s editorial; however, we received an email Tuesday from Shands spokesperson Rossana Passaniti after we reached out to her earlier that day. In the email, she provided a statement from the CEO of Shands, Ed Jimenez, who responded to the board’s editorial, which will be published in full on our website. He addressed some of our previous questions, namely where the money from Dance Marathon goes and how the Miracle Children are helped. These Miracle Children are patients at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. DMUF’s Miracle Children have profiles provided on DMUF’s website. These are the answers Jimenez provided:

In the fiscal year of 2018, Jimenez said, “$9.8 million was raised for our local CMN [Children’s Miracle Network] thanks to Dance Marathons, local partners and corporate sponsors and events.” Of that amount, $3.9 million went to the UF College of Medicine department of pediatrics for pediatric research projects focused on neonates, children and young adults. Patient care and education funding received about $846,000 for recurring programmatic support. This money also helped purchase more compression garments for the regional burn center, pediatric support groups and about $3.2 million funded “capital items like renovations to our pediatric infusion center.” More information was provided including a link to some efforts that the CMN donations fund.

We understand this is a very sensitive topic, and many people have spent hundreds of hours working on it. We appreciate your feedback and your passion. We also would like to offer an apology to anyone who felt our questions were misplaced. We by no means meant to discredit the efforts and accomplishments made by the Children’s Miracle Network, Shands or Dance Marathon; we merely wished to ask for more transparency on where the more than $3 million raised goes locally. We have a news article on Dance Marathon 2019 that was reported by an Alligator reporter, who does not work in the opinions section, that ran on the front page of The Alligator Monday with the headline, “Dance Marathon hits new record.” We did not ignore the event or its new record in our daily news coverage.

As some of our questions were addressed, we would also like to address some of the questions that have been commented on Facebook — for example, if we had reached out to Dance Marathon for answers before the publication of the editorial. Near the end of March one of our reporters reached out to multiple representatives at DMUF asking specifically about the use of Venmo as a reliable way to raise money, and how much money has to be raised before someone is allowed to attend the event. She received only one response that directed her to another person and to the Dance Marathon press kit. She ultimately received no response from that person and did not get the answers to the questions she posed.

On the day of Dance Marathon, the reporter and photographer covering the event were followed around by a Dance Marathon representative and were denied access to interview any of the Miracle Children, their families or to record their names for photos, stating it was a liability issue. However, The Gainesville Sun was able to get an interview with one of the Miracle Children for its own news story.

We say this to offer more context to where our questions have come from so our readers understand that we didn’t get the opportunity to understand the impact directly from the people who benefit from Dance Marathon. We would also like to add that after our editorial was published, we received an email inviting the editorial board to take a tour of Shands, to which we gladly accepted. We had hoped to tour before the publication of this editorial; however, we were told by the Shands spokesperson that she will help set up a tour of Shands as soon as possible. Afterward, we will write an editorial about our experience.

Lastly, we have received answers on how UF Health Shands utilizes the money raised from Dance Marathon, but we have yet to be able to confirm how much the Dance Marathon event costs and how it is paid for. We wanted to express our wish that Dance Marathon and Shands make breakdowns of the funds raised more easily accessible to the common person. We have always understood that Dance Marathon and the Children’s Miracle Network organizations have always been for the kids, and we hope you understand that our questions were posed for the kids, as well.

The Alligator editorial board includes the opinions editor Michaela Mulligan, editor-in-chief Paige Fry and managing editors Christina Morales and Amanda Rosa.

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