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In six days, miracles will happen in Columbia, and lives will be forever changed for the better. More than 2,000 students, joined by the kids who are the reason for it all, will stand and dance for 14 hours at the 20th annual University of South Carolina Dance Marathon Main Event. Their goal is to raise $1,000,000 for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Their leadership team has worked tirelessly for a year leading up to the moment when the total will be revealed at midnight. Why does it mean so much? Midlands Anchor will share a series of stories with you as the countdown continues in hopes of explaining, and of encouraging you to help the cause by donating. This is the second story in the series. Click here for the first. For love, for hope, and always for the kids.

Two sets of Falcons spent Saturday night dancing instead of flying, and the results will do a great deal of good for the kids at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

Ben Lippen School and A.C. Flora High School each hosted Dance Marathons to raise money for the hospital’s Child Life Department. The department provides comfort for the kids and their families, making their time at the hospital as pleasant as possible.

The University of South Carolina Dance Marathon team worked with the twin Falcon teams and eight other local high schools this year, helping organize the mini-marathons, which support the same cause as USCDM’s Main Event, scheduled for Saturday, March 3.

USC students were on hand for both events Saturday to provide assistance, but the high school students took center stage. Both groups had worked for months to prepare and raise money for their big nights, and both succeeded.

Ben Lippen, in its second Dance Marathon, set a goal of $12,500, a big increase from last year’s $7,468. The students delivered, raising cards to reveal their total of $12,524.

Courtney Tipping, whose daughter Zoe survived a life-threatening Wilm’s tumor with help from the children’s hospital, took the stage at Ben Lippen alongside Zoe and her other children to thank the Falcons and tell them how important the Child Life Department is.

“Some of what really helped us, especially Zoe, get through that time was the stuff Child Life did,” Tipping said.

A.C. Flora’s first Dance Marathon brought in $6,801, also a success.

“We’re hoping to continue to expand each year,” said Maggi Marshall, USC Dance Marathon’s vice-president of mini-marathons. Marshall, who was a member of a Dance Marathon team in high school herself, said many high school students gain a love for the cause which leads them to stay involved.

“It’s really awesome to see them have a home when they move off to college. Once you start in the DM family, it continues from there and gives you a place of belonging and a passion and something you can work toward and love in college too,” Marshall said.

The students from Ben Lippen and A.C. Flora will be recognized at USC’s Main Event March 3. Donations to Dance Marathon can be made and information for schools interested in starting a program is available at the USCDM website.

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