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Vanderbilt students gear up for Dance Marathon, 14-hour philanthropy to benefit Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Feb. 9, 2004, 12:53 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Around 300 Vanderbilt University students plan to pull an all-nighter on Friday, Feb. 20.

No,
the students won’t be hitting the books for a marathon study session.
Instead, they’ll be hitting the dance floor to participate in the
University’s fourth annual Dance Marathon. The 14-hour event serves as
a reward for students who have been taking part since the fall in a
campaign to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, which
directly benefits local network member Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Adding
to the excitement is the Children’s Hospital’s newly constructed,
state-of-the-art facility, which patients moved into on Sunday.
Students participating in Dance Marathon were encouraged to tour the
facility and help with the move.

"When I first saw the new
Children’s Hospital, that’s when it finally hit me that I am working
toward something so awesome and helpful," said freshman Beth McKinnon.

For
entry in the marathon, each student was asked to raise an initial $200.
Subsequent efforts, such as letter-writing campaigns, coupon book
sales, basketball tournaments, bake sales and money raised from Greek
Week activities on campus, have contributed to a total donation that
currently stands at more than $25,000. Organizers believe the final
donation will be much higher.

"Our goal for Dance Marathon this
year was simply to raise more money than we did last year, and we have
more than quadrupled that total already," said Kristin Torrey,
Vanderbilt adviser to the event. "We have had tremendous success with
the letter writing campaign alone, and I can’t wait to reveal the final
total at the marathon."

In addition to dancing, students will
be treated to live music, food, carnival games, a caricature artist, a
mechanical bull and a volleyball tournament, among other activities. A
silent auction will be conducted during the marathon to raise further
funds for the Children’s Hospital.

The biggest reward of the
evening, most students feel, is the visit from current and former
Children’s Hospital patients and their families, who will attend the
marathon to participate in the fun and personally thank the students
for their contribution to the hospital.

"It’s wonderful to
know that children will benefit from Dance Marathon, but the students
also benefit by learning more about others’ problems," said Matt
Freeman, a junior.

Similar dance marathons enjoy great
popularity on college campuses across the nation, including nearby
University of Tennessee. Local organizers hope to join other schools in
making Vanderbilt’s Dance Marathon one of the University’s
most-anticipated annual events.

"We want to make Dance Marathon
a community-building tradition at Vanderbilt," said Barbara Lord, a
Vanderbilt senior and chair of the Dance Marathon committee. "We hope
that it will be a long-term event, each year raising more funds and
awareness than the year before."

"Dance Marathon is important
because it shows that the Vanderbilt community is unified. We’re not
just an academic campus or a hospital campus, we are Vanderbilt as a
whole," echoed junior Katie Clark. "The marathon highlights the many
great aspects that make up Vanderbilt."

Dance Marathon 2004
kicks off at Vanderbilt’s Student Recreation Center at 6 p.m. on
Friday, Feb. 20, and continues until 8 a.m. Saturday.

Media contact: Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS
Kara.c.furlong@vanderbilt.edu

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