This piece was written by the UHS Dance Marathon Executives.
Last Saturday night, a group of University High School students came together for the annual University High School Dance Marathon. Started four years ago in honor of Sarah Michelle Cohen, Dance Marathon is a fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children. Each participant stands on their feet for six hours in honor of the kids at Riley or #FTK (For the Kids). Since the event started in 2012, it has raised over $30,000 for Riley, raising $12,001.79 this past Saturday alone. For this piece, each executive member was asked about their experience with Dance Marathon and why the event means so much to them.
Amelia Eskenazi, President of University High School Dance Marathon:
I have been involved with UHSDM for all of its four years of existence at University. It’s been wonderful to watch the event grow and develop over time. My favorite part of Dance Marathon is hearing the stories from the Riley families. It is amazing to see how much hope the hospital has given them, and it truly shows why we stand for the kids. The bravery and strength of the kids we stand for is unimaginable, and it has been an honor to meet so many of them. For a school of less than 300 students, being able to raise $12,001.79 this year was amazing. Over my last four years of high school, I have stood for a total of 24 hours, participating in every dance marathon. However, nothing beats the energy of this marathon. I’m so lucky to go to a school where students are so involved in making their community a better place. We’ve had two Riley Champions in the last two years at UHS, one of which is an exec member this year. Although I’ll miss Dance Marathon terribly next year, I know it will be in good hands.
Hannah Norman, Vice President of University High School Dance Marathon:
Dance Marathon is an event in which students stand for the children of Riley Hospital for Children who can’t, but it is also so much more. Dance Marathon is a time to listen to, think about, and celebrate the lives and families touched by Riley, all while having a blast. University High School succeeds in doing exactly that each year it has held a Dance Marathon. Our school’s Dance Marathon has created, for me, some of the best memories from all of high school and an experience I will never forget. It is truly amazing to witness and experience high schoolers coming together to honor, support, and cherish kids of all ages in their battle and victories because of Riley Hospital for Children. Dance Marathon is one of the most amazing and impacting events we hold as University High School, and I am honored to have been a part of it.
Abbie Laker, 2015 Riley Champion and Riley Relations Executive for University High School Dance Marathon:
Dance Marathon started as a way of giving back to the hospital that saved my life. It has since turned in to an event where I can truly be myself. Last fall I was chosen as one of the eight 2015 Riley Champions, and I had the opportunity to be honored at the Annual Riley Luncheon. I wanted to show a few people on our own Riley Dance Marathon Committee what it truly meant to be a Riley kid. They were able to see what Riley means to these kids and how Riley has impacted their lives. With being one of the Riley Champions comes tremendous responsibility filled with events and other school’s Dance Marathons where I get to tell my own Riley Story. These past few weeks I have come out of my shell. I am no longer shy, because I feel more comfortable with people who understand my differences. I have always found it important to give back to Riley. As a long time Riley patient, I have seen first hand what Riley Hospital for Children can do and the difference it can make in someone’s life. Speaking as a Riley kid, the people who come to UHSDM motivate us more than they realize.
Robin MacKellar, Riley Relations and Fundraising Executive for University High School Dance Marathon:
UHSDM has played an important role in my life for the last 4 years. I have fallen in love with the energy I get when dancing for 6 hours. The Riley family stories have impacted my life for the better. I’m so honored to have been able to start our first ever Mr. University this year to benefit Riley Hospital for Children. I believe with the continuation of Dance Marathon and Mr. University, University High School will continue to make an impact on Riley Hospital for Children!
Daniel Healey, Catering Executive for University High School Dance Marathon:
UHSDM means a lot to many people, including me. It is a fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a time to hangout with the UHS Community, get your groove on, and listen to the stories of Riley kids. Listening to the stories of the Riley kids is so moving and powerful, and it reminds me of why I serve on the UHSDM Committee.
Ariana Katz, Dancer Relations Executive of University High School Dance Marathon:
To me, Dance Marathon is an opportunity to do something for others and appreciate experiences and things in life we are lucky to have. As we hear stories from Riley families throughout the marathon, we learn who we are dancing for. UHSDM isn’t just another school event that the committee plans so that students can have a fun weekend, but it’s also a way for the UHS community to come together and support kids who face complications that some of us have never even imagined having to live with. I am truly honored to consider myself a part of the group that has made UHSDM happen, and we’ve tried to make it the best Dance Marathon University has ever experienced. Standing for the kids and representing University High School while doing so is something I am lucky to say I do.
Natalie Hellman, Dancer Relations Executive of University High School Dance Marathon:
People underestimate the impact Dance Marathon has on not only the patients at Riley Hospital for Children, but also everyone who participates. Knowing you can make a difference in a child’s life is what dance marathon is all about. By hearing their stories about conditions most of us have never even heard of, it puts how lucky we are into perspective. I not only do Dance Marathon because it’s a blast, but also because of the feeling you get watching a kid dance when their story is filled with hardships you’ve never had to overcome. I am so lucky to stand for the kids who can’t and to help organize an event that allows everyone to make a difference.
Emma Troughton, Morale Executive of University High School Dance Marathon:
Being involved with UHSDM for the last four years has really been a privilege. I’ve met some of the strongest and most dedicated people I know. I think a Riley kid summed it up perfectly when she said, “Involvement in Dance Marathon will change your life and involvement in DM will change someone else’s life.”