USC Dance Marathon hits $1 million goal, will help hospital’s Child Life Program

The University of South Carolina Dance Marathon celebrated its 20th anniversary in style Saturday night, raising $1,025,171 for the kids at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

The fundraising total was a new record for the student group, surpassing their previous best by more than $300,000.

The money will fund the hospital’s Child Life Program for a full year and pay for the completion of the USC Dance Marathon Playground at the hospital, specially designed to accommodate the needs of children under medical care.

USC President Harris Pastides congratulated the crowd of more than 2,200 dancers (another new record) Saturday night.
“What you have done for the kids, this is as big as the Final Four. This is as big as winning the Outback Bowl. This is as big as winning the women’s basketball national championship,” Pastides said. “You are what makes the University of South Carolina great.”

The university turned on the garnet lights ringing the top of Capstone (a landmark hall on campus) after the fundraising total was announced, a traditional way of recognizing a historic accomplishment by Gamecocks.

Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropic organization on the USC campus. Alumni from all over the country returned Saturday to join the current students for the 20th anniversary.
Continuing a tradition in place since the beginning, children who have been patients at the hospital (known as “Miracle Kids”) and their families also attended Saturday, with many speaking to the crowd.

“You could’ve been anywhere tonight but you’re right here,” said Sheila Hemingway, whose son Keldon battled and defeated an inoperable brain tumor. “I’m here to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve done so much, and it’s all about these kids.

The record-setting 2018 campaign brings the total raised for the kids by USC Dance Marathon to more than $4.6 million in 20 years. The South Carolina Senate recognized the organization with a resolution March 1.

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