USC Dance Marathon celebrates 20th anniversary Saturday

University of South Carolina Dance Marathon began in 1998 as a small organization. In 2018, it is the largest student-run philanthropic organization at Carolina and will celebrate its 20th anniversary March 3 by trying to raise $1 million for the kids at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

The Dance Marathon name might make it sound like a one-time event, but a staff of nearly 200 student volunteers works year-round not only to raise money, but also to make connections with the children and families they are working to help.

“There’s nothing like it. Running around with them, getting to hang out with them,” said Kaity Lynch, this year’s vice president of communications. “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

Lynch and many of her fellow students on the leadership team have been working to hit the million-dollar goal since last year’s Main Event ended with a record-setting total of $703,289 for the kids.

“It’s a full-time job. I think a lot of people don’t think about it that way,” Lynch said. “It’s definitely been hard, but it’s going to be worth it.”

Many alumni will return to Columbia to join more the staff and more than 2,000 dancers (another new record) for the 2018 Main Event, a 14-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon that celebrates the culmination of a year’s worth of efforts to raise financial and emotional support for the kids.

Every dollar raised March 3 will go to the hospital’s Child Life Department, which works to make visits as comfortable and pleasant as possible for kids and their families.

Lynch, in her fourth year at South Carolina, has seen the organization grow by leaps and bounds, and has taken on larger and larger tasks as a leader, from giving interviews to media to redesigning the organization’s website.

“This is such great life experience,” she said. “Just making sure that everything is on brand with what we’re trying to convey, making sure everything we put out is of the highest quality. Half of my portfolio for when I graduate is Dance Marathon.”

Main Event will reach its climax around midnight March 3, as the leadership team takes the stage and lift cards, revealing the fundraising total to the crowd. Lynch will be experiencing her fourth reveal and her third as part of the leadership team, and regards that moment each year as her favorite of all the great experiences of Dance Marathon.

“Getting to see all of the year’s work pay off, getting to see new people fall in love with Main Event each year. There’s nothing else that compares to getting to look out into the crowd and see everyone else feel what I felt my freshman year,” she said. “It means everything we did for the past year was worth it.”

Lynch has set a personal goal of raising $10,000 this year for Dance Marathon. Click here to donate to the cause.