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University of Alabama Dance Marathon Raises Over $340,000 for Children’s of Alabama

Written By: Claire Day, Sonny Franks and Meghan Poljak

An entire year’s worth of efforts culminated on Saturday, Feb. 11— the day more than 1,500 University of Alabama students had been waiting for, all with one goal in mind: raising $300,000 For The Kids. The University of Alabama Miracle Network Dance Marathon, or UADM, hosted its sixth annual, 12-hour main event at the Ferguson Student Center. Here, students from across campus came together to stand, dance, and raise money directly benefiting their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Children’s of Alabama. All of which would not have been possible without the support of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores.

Saturday morning was like every other morning at UA, except on this Saturday hundreds of students flooded the Ferguson center eager to “stand for those who can’t.” Kicking off the event, UADM’s president, Sarah Urbanski, and Dr. Adam Sterritt, Assistant Vice President for Student Life at UA, welcomed the crowd. “The most important part of today is that none of you forget why we’re here,” said Sterritt. “The Dance Marathon experience is transformative. We are here because of the Miracle Families and children benefitting from this program.”


Looking around the room at the sea of face paint and tutus, it was clear that no one would forget why they were here. The joy and passion shared between students and Miracle Families created an undeniable bond that everyone could feel was bigger than them. It was bigger than the countless hours and sleepless nights put into preparing this event, bigger than the 12 hours of leg cramps and laughter— it was the idea that until every child is cured, they will continue to stand united. 

It was easy to stand united as Miracle Families began each hour by sharing their stories, serving as another reminder of why everyone was there. This year UADM had a total of 12 Miracle Children, including four new Miracle Families, who were attending UADM for the first time. Families took this time to share their heartfelt stories and what UADM means to them, and the kids took this time to show off their talents. Lindsey sang a beautiful rendition of  “Hero” by Mariah Carey. Trace brought his saxophone and performed a duet with a college DM friend and fellow tenor sax, Anthony Lipscomb. The duo gained quick acclaim from their rendition of Iron Man and ESPN’s theme song. Colton adorably celebrated his 6th birthday on stage by showing off his dance moves to his favorite song, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).” Kenzie led everyone in a Roll Tide cheer before she sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”


When the Miracle Families weren’t sharing their stories, Miracle Makers were taught the line dance and participated in activities that coincided with the uniquely themed hours. Students broke off into color teams and spent the day together earning points and pushing one another to fundraise. “Love’s the Kids” hour set the tone for the day as the first fundraising push hour. This hour stirred something in Miracle Maker Sierra Hatfield. It began the “Zero to Hero” initiative. Throughout the hours from 11-6 she started with only $1 donated to her in her donor drive and by 4th Quarter hour, she was a top five fundraiser out of all Miracle Makers and UADM staff. This Love’s themed hour motivated Sierra, and so many others, to go out of their comfort zone and start raising money, FTK!

Events upstairs continued with activities such as a Disney lip-sync battle, hot dog eating contest and a throwback dance party. Downstairs the Miracle Children had full access to two bouncy houses. One was a slide previously used for UADM’s annual, “Slide into DM” event, and the other was a Twister board. The halls were filled with posters and pictures of UADM’s accomplishments throughout the year.

“We cannot thank Love’s enough,” said Andrew Reed, director of corporate partnerships for UADM. “Our organization has grown and accomplished goals that surpassed all of our expectations because they took the time to care and support us.”

Taking rivalry off the field and onto the dance floor, UADM brought a long-standing competitor into the mix. The Alabama vs. Auburn fundraising competition hour sparked a competitive fire in both schools’ participants as the two rival universities competed head-to-head to raise the most money during that hour of their respective dance marathons. Soon the totals from the competition were announced. UADM had raised $17, 931.01 and Auburn DM had raised $19,060.83. The two programs celebrated not only their respective accomplishments, but also the mind-blowing $36, 991.84 they had raised FTK together.

As the year’s final total was being calculated, the crowd fist-pumped it’s way into the “Love’s Rave to Save” hour. As glow sticks, goodies and beach balls were thrown above the crowd, UA’s Miracle Makers, staff and Miracle Families danced together for one last hour in celebration of the year’s hard work. 

Finally the time had come. UA students rushed downstairs to the Great Hall amidst chants of “FTK! FTK!” to see exactly how much they had raised this year. Before signs were raised and speeches were given, UADM’s participants joined hands and formed their traditional Circle of Hope around the Miracle Families as a way of remembering why they had had stood one last time. 

UADM Executive board members then took the stage and revealed the year’s final total of $340,001.17. The crowd roared as everyone on stage burst into tears. 
“It was the proudest moment of my life,” said president of UADM, Sarah Urbanski, “… and it never would have been possible without the support of all of our staff, advisers and, of course, Love’s.”