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It started as a way for my friend to impress a guy, and it became a life-changing passion project for me. Dance Marathon raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network which benefits St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

A friend had signed us up without knowing anything about it- that’s right, she wanted to impress a guy. A few weeks later, after forgetting all about it, I received an email asking if I was ready to participate. I was caught completely off guard.

With some hesitation, my friend and I decided we would take a chance and attend the event. Not knowing what to expect, we put on our dancing shoes and showed up. We immediately noticed the high energy in the room. We stepped into a legit party – the lights, the sounds, the vibe. It’s about 16 hours of dancing, but there was no way we would last that long. We figured we’d stay until maybe 10 p.m. and call it a night.

The event highlights stories of incredibly resilient children. Saint Luke’s handpicks a group of children to attend the event and dance with us. Some of the children have experienced things like cancer, diabetes, and premature births. Being surrounded by these miracle kids was the highlight of the night.

We were surrounded by a team of people that kept hyping us up. Before we knew it, it was 3 a.m. Where did the time go? I was exhausted and my legs hurt. I thought about quitting, but then I started thinking about the children in the hospital and everything they have to endure. I was healthy and strong. I couldn’t quit now. I thought to myself “if they can get through everything they have endured, I can make it through one night of this.”

As the marathon came to an end, we saw the reveal of how much money we raised. We raised $66,000 that year alone. I couldn’t help but feel proud of what we’d accomplished. I knew at that moment I was stuck to the cause.

Since my first Dance Marathon, I have gone on to serve on the executive team of the event. I’ve raised almost $10,000 on my own. I currently serve as the president of the organization and I’m happy to see more students become involved.

Every year I hit a point where I feel like giving up. The stress of class, work and running an event like this can take its toll on me. But, remembering why we are doing it keeps me going. On our “push days,” we can raise as much as $20,000 in one day. That’s insane. And I remind myself, “We did that.”