When Carolina students twisted and shouted the night away at the annual Dance Marathon recently, they did it for a reason far greater than showing off their moves. Dozens of sick children at UNC Children’s Hospital and their families will have a better quality of life thanks to their efforts. In its 18th year, the Dance Marathon has helped raise nearly $5 million dollars to assist North Carolina families while their children battle illnesses.
“We seek to meet the emotional needs of our patients and families,” said Haley Waxman, a senior at Carolina and Dance Marathon publicity chair. The Dance Marathon is the largest fundraiser for the broader organization that hosts it – Carolina for the Kids – which helps families by providing meals, financial assistance when hospital stays interfere with job responsibilities and fun activities for children while they are hospitalized.
“We want parents to be able to focus on their children being well and not worry about paying their electricity bill or where their next dinner is coming from,” Waxman said. “And we want kids to be able to be kids.”
Kids like 5-year-old Andrew Murphy of Benson, N.C., who was severely injured in a lawnmower accident two years ago, but has now made a full recovery.
Thanks to Carolina for the Kids, Murphy has memories of his time in the hospital that don’t focus on his injury.
“Given what these kids go through in the hospital, what Carolina for the Kids does is incredible,” said Heather Murphy, Andrew’s mom.
One of the highlights of Andrew’s stay was the prom hosted by Carolina for the Kids, where children have a chance to play and interact with students from Carolina.
“Andrew was so excited to dance with the pretty girls and have a night where it didn’t seem like he was in the hospital,” she said.