By Elizabeth Hansen, For The Miami Student
Red, white and blue balloons floated through the Armstrong Pavilion on Saturday, and streamers and American-themed banners, reading "For the Kids of America," hung on the walls.
Volunteers dressed in red and blue tie-dyed shirts formed a tunnel to usher in this year's participants for Dance Marathon. Music blasted as the crowd chanted their slogan, "FOR THE KIDS! FOR THE KIDS!"
"Our goal this year was 350 registered participants, and so far we have over 500. The morale this year is awesome," said Vice President of Involvement for Dance Marathon Rachel Morgan.
Students danced from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. to raise money for Cincinnati Children's Hospital, taking a break only to eat lunch and dinner.
"The main idea is that you stand for the kids who can't," said first-year volunteer Madi Gregory.
Dance Marathon is a Children's Miracle Network Hospitals movement, a non-profit organization devoted to raising money and awareness for children's hospitals across the country.
Since Dance Marathon began in 1991, it has raised over $135 million for children across America. Last year, Miami University's team raised over $38 thousand. This year's goal was set at $40 thousand
Throughout the day, patients from Cincinnati Children's Hospital and their families came to tell their stories and dance along with the Miami students.
Bob Ellerman, a volunteer for Children's Miracle Network and the Champion's Program at Cincinnati Children's hospital, has come to Oxford every year for the past three years to share his story about his daughter, Kelly.
"Kelly was born five weeks early and with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare disorder resulting in brittle bones that only affects one in 66 thousand births," said Ellerman. "Her right leg was a deep shade of purple, her left leg was at a 90 degree angle and her toes were pointed at her head."
She had too many broken bones to count. They told Ellerman Kelly probably wouldn't live through the night.
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"I kept asking the doctors what I should do, but they would not tell me due to the Medical Code of Ethics," said Ellerman.
With family flying in from Florida and driving in from Cleveland, Ellerman had one request - keep Kelly alive until everyone could see her.
At 6:30 a.m. on August 13, 1991, Kelly's head began to swell and Ellerman knew a decision had to be made.
"We gathered the grandparents and got my wife to Children's Hospital. We were told we could not lift her or hold her because we would break more bones. The staff placed Kelly in my wife's arms to hold her for a brief moment."
At 12:00 p.m., Ellerman and his wife decided to take Kelly off of breathing tubes and let her go. At approximately 1:00 p.m., Kelly passed away.
"We went from a birth on a Monday, to a funeral on a Friday," said Ellerman.
Shortly after Kelly's death, Ellerman's wife began knitting small hats and booties for the Neonatal ICU unit at Children's. Two years ago, Ellerman began volunteering in the Child Life Activity Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"If you saw some of their faces, you would never know they were sick. These kids smile and laugh and enjoy being in the Activity Center to forget about their illnesses for awhile," said Ellerman, as children in the Armstrong Pavillion laughed, danced and played games with the Miami student volunteers.
"Though Kelly could not be helped at the hospital, the children there are getting the best care possible," said Ellerman. "What you all are doing here today with this Dance Marathon does make a difference to these kids and their families."
A roar of applause from the audience followed Ellerman's story. The dancing continued.
Around 11:30 p.m., the only light coming into the Armstrong Pavilion was that of glow sticks as the volunteers raved in preparation for the final reveal. After a long day of dancing, the question of how much money was raised danced in the heads of the tired volunteers
"We're all very excited to see the number! It's great to see our hard work and dedication pay off," said Gregory.
One final song and dance, then the winning team was announced.
"The team that raised the most money is … The New Romantics!" said Dance Marathon President Maddy Wimmer.
The New Romantics hopped on the stage and were each handed a large piece of cardboard to help reveal the grand total.
One by one, they flipped it over, revealing a number. The audience shouted along.
"ZERO! SEVEN! FIVE!"
There were three cards left to reveal. The exhaustion from dancing for twelve hours straight seemed to escape the crowd as the final numbers were revealed.
"ZERO! FOUR!" There was one card left. It was a dollar sign.
The tired dancers screamed in excitement as the grand total was revealed: $40,570.34 - all for the kids of America.