Brightly colored tents, balloons and students in Dance Marathon polos stretched from the entrance of Library West to the edge of the Plaza of the Americas on Tuesday.
The students gathered for the fourth-annual Transform Today, where participants worked to fundraise $500,000 in 26.2 hours, said Arie Hariton, the fundraising overall director. The event will end at 10:12 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Dance Marathon fundraises for the Children’s Miracle Network, which works to improve hospital equipment and fund research for pediatric cases, he said. In the past they have given UF Health Shands Hospital equipment like an infusion chair, which costs over $30,000 and provides a more comfortable place for children to sit during chemotherapy, Hariton said.
Last year, UF’s Dance Marathon surpassed their 26.2-hour goal of $262,000 and raised $422,557.
“Every year at UF we strive to do more,” Hariton said. “We wanted to capitalize on our momentum.
Harition, a 21-year-old UF finance senior, said he set out to personally raise $1,500 on Transform Today.
If the organization is able to complete their goal, this will be the largest fundraising push in one day in all of Children’s Miracle Network history, Hariton said.
Various restaurants across town gave a portion of their proceeds to the cause, including Chipotle, Zaxby’s and Zoe’s Kitchen. The Panhellenic Council sponsored busses to go to and from Norman Garage to Archer Road, where the restaurants are located, Hariton said.
Breen Kiel, an 18-year-old UF accounting freshman and recruitment captain for Dance Marathon, said she has been on campus asking for donations, talking to family and sending messages on Facebook all day in an attempt to personally raise $500.
“Seeing how kids can impact kids is really cool,” Kiel said.
There are over 6,000 UF students that are involved in Dance Marathon and about 100 children that their efforts go toward, Hariton said.
“The biggest part of it is that it’s an opportunity to engage with the campus,” Hariton said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to show people something that I’m so passionate about.”