Sounds of the Cupid Shuffle, falling Jenga blocks and chants of “FTK!” rang through Kennedy Union Feb. 17 as UD Miracle’s (UDM) annual Flyerthon took place.
A 13-hour dance marathon, Flyerthon raises money to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital, a branch of the Children’s Miracle Network. The slogan for the event, “For the Kids,” or FTK, perfectly captures the motivation of participants. Students gave their all on the dance floor to give back to a cause that means so much to many people.
“When I was 9-years-old, my own life was saved at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and I have always wanted to repay them in some way,” said Karly Michel, senior biology major.
Michel was inspired to become a member of the executive board and served as internal vice president this year, a position that seeks to generate awareness of Flyerthon among students and faculty.
Other executive board members share similar reasons for joining this impactful student organization. Their passion and excitement to give back fuels their involvement.
“My cousin was treated at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for brain cancer and since then, I have felt the need to give back and help kids like these,” said Molly Klonk, junior intervention specialist major.
Klonk served as external vice president this year and worked closely with Dayton Children’s Hospital to make the event a success.
“I believe that every child should have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood,” said Kevin Outwater, senior pre-medicine major and UDM director of operations. “My dream is that one day no child is sitting in a hospital waiting for treatment on their birthday.”
UD Miracle members planned a plethora of activities to keep the 300 Flyerthon participants on their feet for 13 hours. This included learning a line dance, a salsa lesson and a cardio workout session featuring the music of Cardi B.
Performances from On the Fly, Audio Pilots and other student musicians occurred throughout the day as well.
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One could argue that the most meaningful aspect of the event was hearing from the Miracle Kids. These children serve as ambassadors for Dayton Children’s Hospital and share their stories of overcoming illness. Their pure gratitude and love of life can be inspiring for listeners and can leave a profound impact.“Their stories are inspiring and really allow you to put a face to the cause,” Klonk said. Outwater agreed.
“Being able to interact with the kids and hear about their stories reminds me of why I decided to join UD Miracle in the first place,” he said.
For some Miracle Kids, Flyerthon is one of the biggest audiences they tell their stories to.
“Hanna was anew Miracle Kid this year. She came up to me right before she went on stage to share her story and told me how nervous she was because she’s never told this many people her miracle story,” Michel said. “Just seeing her face light up when we all clapped for her made me love UD students that much more for rallying behind a nervous kid who’s been through more than we could ever imagine.”
The true climax of the event was at the end, when the amount of money raised to be given to the hospital was revealed. This year, UDM raised $55,432, a new record for Flyerthon and Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Outwater believes a combination of student support and passionate executive board members helped Flyerthon reach and surpass its goals.
“When this year’s executive board first met last April, we all had a goal of doing something great. UD Miracle has been an up-and-coming organization for several years, so we believed this year we could really make something special happen,” he said. “I feel like this year we had a group of students who were beyond dedicated to do everything FTK.”
Michel agreed and added there has been increased awareness of UDM, which helped fundraising efforts.
“We are at a point now on campus where students are no longer asking what Flyerthon is, but they are asking for tips on how to fundraise more, and who’s performing this year,” she said. “It’s truly amazing to see the growth throughout campus in the last three years alone.”
The value of giving back to the Dayton community is not lost on the members of UDM. By donating money and seeing the Miracle Kids, participants can see an issue in their own backyard that they are helping.
UDM hopes to continue to bring awareness of the organization to campus and continue to grow.
“We like to refer to our determination to the cause as ‘one generation fighting for the next’,” Klonk said. “We truly are dancing in support of these brave kids that are fighting battles we could never even imagine facing.”
Photos courtesy of UD Miracle.