By: Grace Hagan – Print Editor-in-Chief
On Saturday, Feb. 18, when the skies were blue and the sun was shining, hundreds of UD students flocked inside to the dark wood paneled walls of KU ballroom. Why? Well, Flyerthon of course.
Each year, UD Miracle works to give life to Flyerthon, a dance marathon to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital, the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital just down the road from the university. The group acts as a liaison between Dayton Children’s Hospital and the University of Dayton.
UD Miracle President Marisa Napoli explained this relationship between the three organizations. “We are one of over 350 organizations across the nation that raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, and what’s really cool about that is that 100 percent of the funds that we raise stay local,” Napoli said.
For its 18th year, UD Miracle worked hard to bring another Children’s Miracle Network dance marathon into reality. Flyerthon, as the dance marathon is now called, ran for 13.1 hours from 11 a.m. to 12:06 a.m.
The event kicked off with a speech from Napoli. She spoke on child health and awareness, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and UD Miracle, but the most important focus, Napoli said, was on the kids. In fact, UD Miracle’s slogan is FTK: for the kids. The entire idea behind this dance marathon and its 13.1 hours of nonstop standing is for participants to experience a fraction of the exhaustion that the kids at Dayton Children’s Hospital feel everyday.
That being said, a great part of the event was fun and games. “We’re standing, but we’re also having fun dancing and playing games. We also have a lot of entertainment throughout the day, a lot of singers,” Napoli said. Among the many great student musicians who performed, UD students Adam Cepeda and Max Boyle played acoustic music as Flyerthon participants enjoyed lunch and dinner.
Further entertainment included a Zumba class taught by Rachel Michaud to keep energy high and to keep the event interactive. Dayton’s popular student improv comedy troupe, On the Fly, also made an appearance.
On the Fly member Annie Scott has gone to Flyerthon the past three years. Last year Scott served on the morale committee, working to keep the crowd pumped up. This year, she returned to keep morale high, this time with the rest of On the Fly. Scott shared that On the Fly often does mini shows for charity events like Flyerthon.
“SGA gives us money for a charity show every year and we give all the money that we raise to a certain organization, and this fall we did one for UD Miracle which was super fun and we raised around $300 for them,” Scott said.
Children from Dayton Children’s Hospital were among the crowd, and the improv troupe’s performance was tailored to this special audience.
“Flyerthon is just so fun, especially when there’s the kids there, and we always make sure to have kid friendly games and topics because sometimes improv can get a little unsavory,” Scott said.
Napoli echoed Scott’s sentiments that the best part of Flyerthon was having the Miracle Kids, as they are affectionately called, there.
“We have a lot of little ones, but we also have some older kiddos who have been coming to Flyerthon since it originated, since they were babies,” Napoli said.
One of the Miracle Kids present at Flyerthon was six-year-old Carmine.
“He’s only six. He’s gone through at least 15 surgeries and he only had a 15 percent chance to live when he was born. He was the size of a soda can and now he is six years old. It’s just really incredible holding someone in your arms who statistics say was not supposed to live,” Napoli said. Other Miracle Kids took the stage to join in on the dancing, singing and celebration.
To take advantage of the sunshine, Flyerthon took the dance party out onto the outdoor patio attached to Barrett dining hall. After the basketball game, the UD pep band came over and played for everyone, providing some much needed energy for the hours ahead.
UD Miracle Internal Director, Mary Beth Turner, thinks there was a little something for everyone.
“We split it up so one part is the stage, one part you can be writing cards to children in the hospital or you can be doing face painting, the raffle, getting food, learning more about UD Miracle– so there were a lot of different things to be doing,” Turner said.
Flyerthon has been an event in progress, with fundraising work being done months before the Feb. 18 date. Change jars were placed around campus, and those jars have raised just under $1,000 for Dayton Children’s Hospital.
“One thing that people typically say about UD Miracle is that the money that we raise is typically a dollar a time, sometimes literally a nickel at a time. We’re literally counting pennies, but they end up adding up to a lot of money,” Turned said.
Hotdog Hotlines and last October’s Not-So-Fit 5K also raised more money for UD Miracle’s cause.
UD Miracle set their goal to $32,500 and after over 220 students registered for Flyerthon, they surpassed their goal, raising $40,539.53. That number has even gone up as last minute donations trickle in.
Both Napoli and Turner were thrilled by the progress that UD Miracle has made with Flyerthon. Part of that growth may come from the ideals that UD Miracle and the University share: engaging with the local community and being a servant leader to others. Turner attributes the group’s growth to those shared ideals.
“I can see our faculty involvement growing, I see our Greek life involvement growing, our participant involvement growing. I just can’t wait to look back five years, five years in the future, and be like, ‘Wow, that’s what we did, but look what we’re doing now.’ It’s definitely going in a good direction,” Turner said.
To become involved in or learn more about UD Miracle, email UDmiracle@gmail.com or request to join on OrgSync.
Photo Courtesy of UD Miracle