At the age of three, Allison Lawrence’s heart stopped beating as the result of a near-fatal toxic infection. After 41 minutes of CPR, her heart miraculously started to beat again. Since then, with the aid of the Children’s Miracle Network, she has endured intensive physical therapy and surgery and beaten “remarkable odds” to be where she is today, Allison’s mother and Clarkston resident Beth Lawrence said.

Paul Wong
Dance Marathon participants performed a line dance yesterday afternoon to conclude the fundraiser. Beginning Saturday morning, participants were taught segments of the dance each hour.(LAUREN BRAUN/Daily)

Allison is one of the many reasons why the spirit of Dance Marathon is still going strong.

More than 6,000 participants filled the Indoor Track Building with hope and enthusiasm for “making kids smile Maize and Blue style” at the fifth annual Dance Marathon, held Saturday and Sunday.

Fundraising efforts directly benefit 35 Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Children from the William Beaumont and C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospitals. This year’s event raised $166,856.94, about $35,000 more than last year’s. Since its inception, Dance Marathon has raised more than $540,500.

“It’s such a moving cause to come out and help the life of a child,” LSA junior and Dance Marathon spokeswoman Nicole Gopoian said.

The philanthropic and social event requires participants to remain standing for 30 hours.

“No clocks or watches are allowed on the dance floor,” Gopoian said. “It seems to go by faster for the dancers when they aren’t checking their watches all the time.”

Inspirational stories from the children and their families offered encouragement to the dancers throughout the day.

Students also volunteered to serve as morale captains to provide additional encouragement.

Dressed as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, moral captain Dan Horowitz, an LSA junior encouraged and entertained children and dancers alike.

“It’s like a big hug magnet,” Horowitz said in reference to his costume.

Although dancing is the backbone of the event, participants don’t need experience to participate. Dancers also had the opportunity to try their hand at arts and crafts projects, basketball, volleyball and computer games.

“We try our best to keep the dancers occupied so they don’t get bored,” Gopoian said.

Surprise guest speakers included Interim University President B. Joseph White and Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr.

After 15 hours of dancing, second-year participant and University alum Corey Fernandez described the atmosphere of the dance floor as “delirious.”

“It gets really emotional toward the end and when you see the families you’re helping – it really begins to sink in,” he said.

Students have been involved with fundraising and social activities since the fall. Each dancer must raise a minimum of $250 to participate.

Lawrence said her entire family is eager to return to the event every year.

“(The students) show a genuine friendship and want for being here,” Lawrence said.

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