Students dancing at Dance Marathon

Sunday, February 18, 2018

UGA students raise more than $1 million for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Athens, Ga. – More than 3,000 students representing more than 50 student organizations gathered in the Tate Student Center Grand Hall Sunday morning to celebrate raising $1,261,077.18 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This is the third year in a row that UGA Miracle, the University of Georgia’s largest student-run philanthropy, has achieved a seven-figure fundraising total.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, February 17, and lasting until the same time Sunday, the entire student center was filled with students, faculty and staff for Miracle’s annual Dance Marathon. Throughout the night, participants danced, enjoyed live music and took pictures with Hairy Dawg.

The most stirring aspect of Dance Marathon is the attendance of the “Miracle children,” Children’s Healthcare patients who interact with Miracle’s student members during the year. Nearly 50 of the children and their families were in attendance, 24 of whom took the stage one at a time throughout the night to share their inspirational stories.

Activities for the children and their families include arts and crafts, sharing of personal stories, participating in a scavenger hunt and a lot of dancing.

The event also features a “Standing Challenge,” where participants do not sit for the entirety of the event to honor the many children who cannot stand and may never be able to stand again.

Every dollar raised up to $1 million supports the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to fund state of the art equipment and facilities, including the UGA Miracle Gym. Beginning last year, every dollar raised above $1 million supports the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to fund groundbreaking pediatric research.

John Caras, Miracle’s internal director, is amazed by the passion and dedication of UGA students.

“I have come across some of the most selfless, inspiring people,” Caras said. “Seeing these students fight for those who can't fight for themselves makes me proud to be a part of UGA Miracle and to be a student of the University of Georgia.”

Davis Haines, Miracle’s communications director, participates as a way to honor his older brother, Carter, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and treated at Children's Healthcare.

“After being sick for a little under a year he passed away,” Haines said. “[Being involved] also helped me along my grieving process and opened the door for something I truly had a heart for.”

This was the 23rd annual Dance Marathon. The event is a symbolic gesture of sacrificing a day in support of children who have had to sacrifice much more of their own time to combat illness in hospitals. Since its inception, Miracle has raised more than $8 million for Children’s Healthcare – $4 million of that total coming in the last four years.

UGA Miracle offered several events throughout the past year, including the annual Doughnut Dare 5K, Miracle at Midnight, and the 23rd Annual Classic City Tour of Homes, which raised a combined $24,000. The group set a new record during its $100 Day, raising approximately $353,000 in a single day. 

For the students, it’s all about connections – to the Miracle children and their families, and to each other.

“There is never a day where I do not feel connected to this cause and this organization,” Haines said. “I am certain that this organization hosts the most hardworking, impressive and loving people on this campus.”