For many runners, finishing a marathon is a life-changing moment.
For the dancers completing Dance Marathon, it is a moment when they will change many lives.

- Published April 4, 2009 in the Gainesville Sun

Each spring, 725 dancers show their support for the patients at Shands Children’s Hospital at the University of Florida by staying awake and on their feet for 26.2 hours. Standing for such a long time symbolizes the physical and emotional challenges patients at Shands Children’s Hospital experience every day. The 26.2 hours mirrors the 26.2 miles a runner would run in a marathon. Instead, we dance.

The annual event in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is the culmination of a yearlong commitment from thousands of students to raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network at Shands Children’s Hospital at UF. Over its 15-year history, the event has raised more than $3.2 million, with $413,562.34 raised last year alone.

Although dancers sometimes struggle to get through the event, staffers keep the time packed with activities, meals and entertainment. This site will guide you through all the different aspects of the main event and show that it is not so difficult after all to make it through 26.2 hours on your feet.

Students “dancing” in Dance Marathon learn a line dance. It is usually around five minutes long and is set to a compilation of current and classic popular songs.

A special team of students, called the Morale Team, is assigned to help keep up the spirits of the dancers by creating different theme hours for Dance Marathon that feature costumes, games and activities.

Meals and snacks donated by local restaurants are served every few hours throughout the event and keep the dancers energized while they stay on their feet.

Dancers also enjoy entertainment by musicians, dance groups, and other student and community organizations.

Miracle families who have overcome incredible odds inspire dancers by sharing their stories during the event.