Henna tattoos, games and even a mechanical bull, all provided great ways to forget about looming midterms. However, the most important aspect of the event stayed obvious throughout the night: the children.
In an effort to raise money for children with pediatric illnesses, students danced to music under pulsating multicolored lights at the Miracle Dance Marathon Thursday, March 2.
Late into the night, the Disney-themed event featured games and activities that kept people pumped and ready to dance. There were raffles with candy and art supplies, a jail that imprisoned students after a donation from a fellow friend and free food from Chipotle and Taco Bus.
“I’m amazed every year by the student leaders here at this campus and what they come up with,” said Samantha D’Agostino, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital coordinator. “Every year, it just gets bigger and better.”
Several guest speakers, including a former patient at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital who was treated for a brain tumor, shared touching stories about how their illnesses affected their lives.
“We have 259 beds at the hospital and more than half of them are dedicated to intensive-care level services,” says D’Agostino. “The money raised will be supporting a child-life specialist at our neonatal intensive care unit. Our hospital has been around for nine years, and we weren’t able to have one in our NICU until now.”
The $6,024 raised through the event went to Johns Hopkins. In the past, Dance Marathon has contributed to the hospital’s “Greatest Need Fund,” which is used for education, new equipment and research. But this year, every dollar earned from the over 250 participating colleges and universities will be used to finance a particularly important position at the hospital.
Unique to pediatric hospitals, a child-life specialist combines medicine and play, acting as a support system and advocate for patients and their families. Laura Johnson is the new specialist at Johns Hopkins.
“The more I’m in the NICU, the more I see the need for Child Life”, said Johnson. “When parents find out they’re pregnant, they instantly have these dreams for what’s going to happen, and siblings are usually excited about being a big brother or sister. But when a baby arrives in the NICU, that dream stops; it’s not what they were expecting.”
Johnson says that the experience is traumatic for expecting parents. Her job is to help each family cope, stay connected and normalize the experience for them.
The president of the organization, sophomore Deztony Savett, emphasized the importance of students’ continued support.
“People should participate in Dance Marathon because not only does it raise awareness for pediatric illnesses and support our local children’s hospital, but it is also a way to bring our community together,” Savett said.
Applications to become a part of Dance Marathon’s E-Board, which is in charge of marketing and organizing the event, open this week.