This is what I stand for.

Mizzou Dance Marathon has exploded before my eyes in the best possible way.

I’m not going to take up a lot of room here explaining what Mizzou DM is, as there is a really wonderful explanation on our website. Short story, it’s a year-round philanthropic organization that raises money for the University Children’s Hospital. The entire year of fundraising culminates in a Main Event, a 13.1-hour-long, no-sitting dance party to celebrate a year of hard work. We stands for those who can’t and everything is FTK – For The Kids.

MUDM

I was a DM Moraler my freshman year. It was my job to teach dancers the “Morale Dance” over the duration of the evening, wear crazy costumes and dance my butt off. DM raised a little over $76,000 that year, and I was irrevocably obsessed with the organization.

After 2012’s Main Event, I decided to apply for Steering Committee, or SteerCo. (For those who are not Mizzou students, SteerCo is the title for the student group that plans, organizes and runs a function. There are SteerCos for Homecoming, Relay for Life, Greek Week and other events on campus.) It was a huge honor to be chosen, and I was beyond excited to be involved in the leadership of such a great organization.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened between then and now. Countless committee meetings, adding and losing DMamily members, hundreds of Doodles, meeting the Morale Captains, late nights and early mornings, thousands of GoogleDocs, tabling, building a giant chalkboard, speaking to classes and org meetings, talking to everyone who wanted to listen (and those didn’t), social media campaigns, converting our friends to the DM Way, endless wobbling and more DMlue than I can describe. I strengthened close relationships, forged new ones and grew as a human being. I fell in love with each and every one of our Miracle Kids and their strong, amazing families. DM consumed my life, and I wasn’t even a little bit mad about it.

Finally, it was time for Main Event. Again, sort of blur. I remember hugging everyone through most of the 13.1 hours, dancing and singing on stage and spending time with our Miracle Kids. I remember being deliriously happy.

I also remember crying. A lot. Crying for my cousin, who passed away from leukemia two years ago. Crying for the stories that our Miracle Families told of their struggles and heartbreak. Crying when the crowd sang “Don’t You Worry, Child” to SteerCo standing on stage. Crying when every single person lifted up the “I Love You” sign during the moment of silence.

That’s the thing, though. Main Event makes every obstacle faced by SteerCo and Morale during the year 1000 percent worth it. Main Event is not a charity event – it is a celebration.

photobooth 2013 phoenix!

The night ended, as it always does, with Reveal. We, quite literally, reveal how much money DM raised over the past year. I was standing on stage, sobbing, with a sign in my hand, ready to show the entire crowd what we had worked for all year.

The grand total: $152,402.44.

We had doubled what we raised last year. We had become the largest philanthropy on MU’s campus, the largest DM in the state and the 18th largest Dance Marathon in the nation. SteerCo, Morale and every dancer present at 1:06 a.m. were beyond ecstatic. I cried like a child for at least an hour, and I have rarely felt such pride, accomplishment or love.

The entire SteerCo and Morale with the 2013 grand total.
The entire SteerCo and Morale with the 2013 grand total.

Mizzou Dance Marathon shattered its goals and set standards for both the organization and MU’s campus. Words will never quite suffice, and I can’t say thank you enough: to my family, to my friends, to the strangers who supporting me and this org. I am so beyond blessed.

We began as a bunch of students gathered in the Berg, listening to a speech about DMamily, full of nerves and hope.

We ended as a family.

That’s the thing about DM. It goes beyond fundraising, beyond dancing, beyond fun.

DM is love.

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