TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Hope — that’s what The University of Alabama Dance Marathon means to 21-year-old Katie Hollingsworth.
As a childhood cancer survivor, the UA senior, from Hendersonville, Tennessee, understands more than most the fear and anxiety that comes from living a childhood roaming the halls of a hospital rather than a backyard.
“I was 7 years old when I was diagnosed,” said the restaurant, hospitality and meetings management major. “I did chemo and surgery, but what that hospital and the nurses provided me with was quality of life. That is pretty amazing.”
Hollingsworth’s story is one of many from the 200 plus students who work all year raising funds and awareness for the children and families being treated at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
These efforts will culminate in a 12-hour, no sitting event from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Ferguson Student Center on UA’s campus.
The University of Alabama Dance Marathon is more than just a dance party. It is a celebration for those with childhood diseases who are defying the odds, and it gives UA students an opportunity to dance for those who can’t.
Most of the students involved know someone who has been treated at Children’s or been diagnosed with cancer, and they live true to the UADM motto – “This generation fighting for the next.”
“What we do with UADM to help the children at Children’s Hospital is special,” said Hollingsworth, UADM special events director. “We’re helping give them quality of life and a chance to be kids.”
In its sixth year on campus, UADM has grown from a small group of passionate UA students who helped raised nearly $15,000 during its first year to a committee of more than 200 students who raised more than $211,000 last year.
That, of course, would not be possible without help from sponsors like Love’s Travel Stops and Country Store who provided UADM with a $10,000 grant to help with operations.
While the 12 themed hours of nonstop fun is quite appealing to most attendees, the real magic happens at the start of each hour when children and families, known as “miracle children,” share their stories. Those testimonies are the reason UADM exists.
“UADM reminds me how lucky I am that I can go to college and be sickness-free and not have to deal with hospital visits and doctors,” said 22-year-old Sara Mond, a senior kinesiology major, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who serves as UADM’s morale co-director.
“It’s allowed me to help raise money for those who aren’t that lucky so they can hopefully have those experiences, too – go to college, be regular college students and have that carefree lifestyle that many of us take for granted.”
For more information, visit http://www.uadm.ua.edu/.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.