More than 500 students are registered to stay on their feet for 18 hours this weekend at The University of Toledo’s Dance Marathon to raise money for health care for children.Participants in UT’s 11th annual Dance Marathon will spend the entire night in the Student Recreation Center playing games, participating in contests and activities and, of course, dancing. The event will run from 7:12 p.m. Friday, April 13, to 1:12 p.m. Saturday, April 14.
“Dance Marathon is such a great event because you have the ability to see exactly where the money you are raising is going. We support the Children’s Miracle Network through Mercy Children’s Hospital in downtown Toledo. Students can sign up to go on a tour of the hospital to see what exactly their money is buying,” said Alex Friend, this year’s director of Dance Marathon. “Families who have been helped by money that we have raised also attend Dance Marathon. It is really inspiring for our participants to be able to interact with them.”
Friend said that each year there are about a dozen families who attend the event and share inspiring stories about their children battling the odds. One of these families is the Rice family, who a couple years ago received the news that their daughter, Ashley, had Crohn’s Disease.
“It took months to get her diagnosis and by the time we did, she was severely emaciated. She had lost 25 percent of her body weight. We were referred to Mercy Children’s Hospital, where we found a medicine that has since stabilized Ashley’s condition,” said Dr. Martin Rice, father and UT professor in the Occupational Therapy Program. “At Mercy, we were told that Ashley would be a great miracle child. We looked into it and then we were invited to our first Dance Marathon.”
The Rice family attended their first Dance Marathon in 2010 about two months after Ashley’s diagnosis.
“We weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but we ended up being overwhelmed with a welcoming atmosphere. We are extremely grateful that all these students have such a passion for this event,” Rice said. “I was also blown away by the fact that it is entirely student-planned and student-run. It is amazing that my place of employment has an event that is so welcoming for my family.”
The Rice family plans on being in attendance for the 2012 event as well.
Last year’s Dance Marathon raised nearly $60,000; this year’s goal is $80,000.
Since 2001, the University community has come together to raise nearly $400,000 to support research and technology to uphold the standard of care for children.