Briggs Parry, 12, is a Dance Marathon veteran.
Therapy subsidized by Dance Marathon over the last nine years has been vital for Parry, a brain trauma survivor.
“He was deprived of the oxygen (as an infant),” said his mother, Julia Parry. “When he came out of this, he had no skills whatsoever. His eyes couldn’t track a flashlight.”
But yesterday morning at the marathon, Briggs Parry was onstage, tapping a xylophone in front of the thick crowd of student marathoners.
Success stories like Parry’s make more than a whole day of standing without sitting down worthwhile for the hundreds of volunteers.
For the marathon, dancers pledge to stand for 30 hours, and each dancer must raise at least $250. Last year, the marathon raised more than $300,000.
From 10 a.m. Saturday morning to 4 p.m. yesterday, Dance Marathon’s yearlong fundraising efforts for two local hospitals’ pediatric rehabilitation programs paid off.
The $326,716.47 raised this year will go to the University’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oaks.
“It’s a physical challenge,” Alison Hardin, Dance Marathon’s executive director said of the 30-hour ordeal.
Hardin, an LSA senior, said it represents the physical challenge of the children the marathon supports.
“What we’re doing really pales in comparison to what they’re doing every day,” she said.
For organizers and dancers alike, the best part of the event was seeing their efforts come to life through patient’s onstage performances.
“We’re not just raising money and giving it somewhere where we never see what it does,” Hardin said. “Our cause is very tangible.”
In the event’s nine years, dancers have raised well over a million dollars.
Kelly Riegel-Green, the mother of twins with hearing-induced speech impediments, credited Dance Marathon with making speech therapy an affordable option.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find insurance companies to pick up tabs for a lot of this stuff,” she said. Riegel-Green said weekly speech therapy sessions at Beaumont Hospital can cost more than $80 for each child, effectively costing their family $160 a week to improve the children’s speech.
“What are you supposed to do?” she said.
Riegel-Green said she wants her children to have the same opportunities as any others to be able to apply to a school like the University of Michigan or Harvard University.
“I have to give my kids a fighting chance,” she said.
Dance Marathon may have done just that.