Athens – This weekend UGA students danced, laughed and sang all night long. But this wasn’t just your average Saturday night in a college town. Participants in this year’s Dance Marathon raised $683,251.15 for the kids at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Current and former patients at the hospital along with 1,000 students celebrated throughout the 24-hour dance marathon. Participants enjoyed live music, talent shows, and heartfelt messages from many of the families whose lives have been affected by Children’s Miracle Network.
The UGA Miracle leaders set a goal to raise $610,000 this year and beat that goal by over $70,000.
There was a record setting crowd there. More than a thousand participans were dancing “F-T-K ” or “for the kids.” You may not be able to tell by the carefree smiles on their faces, but many of them have batteled life-threatening illnesses.
The UGA Miracle’s Dance Marathon has spanned two decades, raised millions of dollars, and touched the hearts of families going through some of life’s hardest battles.
Michelle Helton is one of the cancer survivors who attended the event. She said, “Things in life happen and sometimes they are really bad.”
Helton’s story is more than a miracle. As she prepared to give her daughter a much-needed life-saving kidney, doctors made a discovery. Michelle Helton had cancer.
Instead of feeling defeated from this news, Helton was able to put the situation into perspective. “But what a blessing when you can see had my daughter not had renal failure, had my husband not lost his job. I would never have had a mammogram,” she said.
Helton’s daughter, Belle, lives today with a kidney from her father. The Heltons now travel the country sharing their story of courage and hope. “We thank God for all of that now. Because my life was saved. My daughters life was saved. And my husband’s life was saved,” Helton said.
Saving lives is what UGA Miracle is all about. Families personally affected by Children’s Miracle Network shared their heartfelt stories. Jack Spencer, the father of “Miracle” child Emilee Spencer, said that Dance Marathon goes way beyond the fundraising.
“Some of the Miracle kids from UGA came out to the hospital, came and hang out with her, brought her treats, and just really have been involved in her life,” Spencer said.
Some Miracle members chose to take a standing challenge which means that they did not sit down for the entire 24 hour marathon to honor those kids who can’t stand. To the dad of children like Emilee Spencer, who was told she may never run again, this is what miracles are made of.
“She truly is a miracle because she has done more than the doctors thought possible,” Spencer said.
And that’s exactly Webster’s definition of a mir-a-cle: Doing more than what seems possible.
Even after 24 hours of dancing, the Dance Marathon participants seemed to still be bursting with energy. When they revealed the grand total Sunday morning, the crowd couldn’t contain their excitement.
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