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Wobbling and Gangnam-ing for a Cause


Samantha Orland

16 hours of standing later, I have survived Vanderbilt Dance Marathon 2013! Whew. Here’s the scoop on the 13.1 hour dance party that had Vandy students juking and jiving to raise money for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Dance Marathon is one of the largest philanthropic organizations on campus, and it has raised over $1 million in 11 years for the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  Various events throughout the fall semester like carnivals at the hospital, bake sales, and kickball tournaments help to raise money and awareness “FTK” or “For the Kids” at the children’s hospital.  All of these events lead up to the “Big Event”, Dance Marathon, which is a day-long dance party at the Student Life Center to celebrate the children’s hospital and the miracle families that Vanderbilt supports.

Dance Marathon in full swing

This year I was a Morale Captain for Dance Marathon, which meant that I was on the committee whose job it was to pump up Dance Marathon participants and teach them the 10 minute “Morale Dance”, a dance to a mashup of songs that is done about once every hour. Part of the “marathon” aspect of DM is that we encourage our dancers to never sit down at the event, so part of my job was to encourage people to stand up and keep dancing.  Being a Morale Captain also requires that one have a costume for all of the 6 theme hours, which were Circus, Jungle, Disney, Western, Decades, and America this year. After a last minute thrift shop run on Friday night, I was all set for the big day with a wardrobe that included an elephant hat, a pink tutu, some overall jorts, and a silky shirt with a jaguar pattern on it.  The morale-ers had a changing room to ourselves in the basement of the SLC with water bottles and give-aways for all of the theme hours strewn about, and chaos ensued every time we had a costume change.  It was very dance competition-esque. I like that.

Close friend Lauren came to support her elephant hat-wearing adorable friend

I got to DM at 9:30 to help set up and practice the morale dance, but the SLC already looked spectacular. The circus theme was manifest in the light-up balloon arches, a Game Stop station with Just Dance 4 and Super Smash Bros, a silent auction area, an Instagram photo booth area, a food corner, a bouncy slide, and one of those cool carnival game things that you hit with a hammer to see how strong you are.  You know what I mean.

We were given our assignments for the day, and before I knew it, the Miracle families arrived and were introduced one by one in the opening ceremony.  Each family walked down a red carpet as they were announced, and we cheered and blew bubbles at them to welcome them in.  About every hour, one miracle family would get up on stage to tell their inspirational story, and it was cool to see how the money raised at Dance Marathon had directly impacted the lives of these families.  The rest of the day went by in a flash, with spectacular performances by Vandy’s own Juggling Club, Vibe, Momentum, Swingin’ Dores, Capoeira Club, and the Melodores. Fellow blogger Nathan stuck around after his Melodores appearance, which was a fantastic surprise. I think some of his killer dance moves rubbed off on me.

Over $130,000 raised for the children's hospital!

I left Dance Marathon at midnight that night, exhausted but content. There are so many opportunities to give back to the Nashville community at Vanderbilt, and Dance Marathon is one of my favorites.

Silly Morale Captains. Love these guys.


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