Members of the University of Michigan Dance Marathon gathered in Angell Hall Sunday evening for its triennial Family Circle to hear from two of the families and two of the therapy programs DMUM has supported.
According to LSA junior Carolyn Tirella, chair of Family Relations and the organizer of the event, 53 students attended Family Circle to witness the impact of their volunteering and fundraising efforts.
“The purpose of this event is to let the dancers get to know the families a bit better to let them see the effects that the therapies have,” Tirella said. “We have the therapists come in and talk about events that we support so it helps the dancers see where the money’s going and how it affects people’s lives and it allows them to hear about dance marathon from a family perspective.”
Throughout the year, club members, referred to as “dancers,” fundraise and volunteer through certain events for C.S. Mott Children’s and Beaumont Children’s hospitals. The hospitals then allocate that money toward different programs
Jennifer Tucker, organizer of the therapy program Common Lives Community, spoke about her experience with DMUM and how much it benefited her family.
“We could not have started Common Lives Community without (DMUM’s) support, and what that’s meant for my family is that I’ve had the opportunity to get to spend time with other families,” Tucker said.
DMUM sends volunteers to pediatric rehabilitation therapies at the two hospitals. The hospitals have 26 different therapy programs, including therapeutic yoga and wheelchair basketball.
Tirella spoke about the importance of attending the therapies. She has attended six sessions, and each time has noticed the relationships with the children she volunteers with strengthen. She encouraged dancers to participate so they can have similarly rewarding relationships.
“I think any time a dancer can get that kind of relationship or just see that they can give back just by going to a therapy is important,” Tirella said. “Obviously, funding to a therapy is great, but you can also go and actually participate in it and give that interaction.”
Jessica Wang, LSA freshman and DMUM dancer, said the event helped her to better understand how involvement with the therapies affect others.
“I think the event went really well because I actually did not know about a lot of the therapies, I mean I saw a lot of the events on the calendar but you never really know why and how the therapies work until you see the presentations,” Wang said.
She explained the main reason she attended the event was to gain a more complete comprehension of the families for which she volunteered and fundraised.
“With this event I kind of just wanted to be able to understand the stories of the families and to be able to see what I’m working toward, so every time I raise money, every time I volunteer, this is essentially what I’m working for and why I do the things I do,” Wang said.
With the event coming to a close, LSA senior Ben Galen, internal director of DMUM, gave his advice to DMUM members on how events like these should encourage students to reflect on the purpose behind their involvement in the organization.
“I think (Family Circle) is one of the best opportunities that we get in Dance Marathon to see why we’re doing it, why we’re standing and why we’re fundraising, and I think with a big push of Giving Blue Day Coming up, trying to think back about how this is the why that a lot of us are in DMUM.”
LSA junior Ashley Shultz, member of Dancer Engagement and part of the Public Relations Committee, described the value of Family Circle and how it contributes to the aim of the organization as a whole.
“This is the goal of dance marathon,” Shultz said. “We work to fundraise for pediatric rehabilitation programs, but this is actually the meaning behind it … to have that chance to see the kids and just know that you’re genuinely making a difference is just so important and that’s what our program’s all about.”