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Miracle Network Dance Marathon has named 29 graduated college and high school student leaders as recipients of the 2022 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Graduated Senior Leadership Award. The honorees are being recognized for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their member hospital of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across the United States and Canada that fundraise for member Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These students work tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds by making the ask to family and friends. Their hard work culminates in a 6–40-hour celebration on their campus or virtually, where participants have the opportunity to rally together as a community for their member hospital of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Students involved in Dance Marathon gain valuable skills in fundraising, peer management, delegation and philanthropy. Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs have collectively raised more than $300 million since 1991.

The 2022 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Graduated Senior Leadership Award recipients are:

Abby Ferrell, Eastside High School.
“My siblings and I grew up with Dance Marathon students attending our concerts, graduations, and dinners at our house. These students were some of the most caring and welcoming people I have ever met and I hope to be at least half as caring as some of the students we met. I do Dance Marathon because I want to make an impact on kids in the hospital just like my brother and other families in Dance Marathon programs around the nation.”

Alyssa Urbanowski, University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“Aside from being an amazing cause, joining Dance Marathon allows students to find a sense of community on their campus. For me, and many others, the members of Dance Marathon have become a second family. Dance Marathon has such a vast variety of different people, but everyone shares a common goal. Meeting and working with link-minded peers for a great cause is not something you can find in just any organization. There is a place for any and everyone in Dance Marathon, and that is why it is so unique.”

Anna Kantar, Westfield High School. 
“Leading Dance Marathon has shown me the importance of not only building a connected community but also relying on that community for help to achieve a greater goal. It has been incredible to watch my committee members grow confident in their own abilities and find their own passion for this cause while developing my skills in delegation and encouragement of other people.

Ben Smith, The Ohio State University. 
“I participate in Dance Marathon because I believe in the power of young people to make a difference in the world. I am extremely passionate about young people coming together to fight for a common cause and make a difference for the community. To be able to pave the way for future kids to get the right treatment and pay it forward is very special to me!”

Brianna Stevens, University of Central Oklahoma.
“People should fundraise for their member CMN Hospital, because unlike so many other organizations, the money raised by CMN Hospitals stays local and is used to provide essential things for our community. One of the things I love most about raising money for our local hospital, Children’s Hospital Foundation, is that I know all of the funds raised are going straight to better hospital programs, bringing the best doctors to Oklahoma, and providing funds for life saving research. Hearing from families directly impacted by our hospital, as well as going on tours of the hospital shows just how impactful these funds are and I know that when I am asking people to donate, their funds are being used responsibly and in the way that will be most impactful for changing the future of kids’ health here in Oklahoma!”

Callie Koch, University of Oklahoma.
“My why starts with my cousin and those around me that had been impacted by children’s hospitals, but it does not end there. Because of OUDM, I have genuinely been able to become a better me, and I have been able to be a part of the incredible community with the best people. I do this for the kids, my peers, my advisors, my cousin, and for me. OUDM has been my home and the most supportive community I have ever been a part of. The people in this organization have the drive, leadership, and compassion that I am always striving towards. OUDM, and these people are my rock. I fight for the kiddos that I have grown so close to over the past five years, and I fight for every kid that has to take those scary steps into the children’s hospital.”

Erin Oliveira, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “Dance Marathon can be for everyone, it doesn’t matter your major, grade, student organization affiliation, or where you come from. It is a place where any student can come and fight for the next generation, make a difference, make friendships, and gain leadership experience like no other. I would encourage any student to learn more about their campus’s program because, like me, it could change their entire college experience and enlighten a new passion.”

Gabriela O’Keefe, University of New Mexico.
“Through Dance Marathon, I’ve learned that a huge part of leadership is exercising empathy and patience. I’ve developed critical communication skills that revolve around inspiring others, identifying challenges and solutions, and expressing vulnerability to instill meaningfulness and closeness in the relationships with my team. Dance Marathon has given me confidence in my ability to lead others while allowing me to develop life-changing connections and friendships.”

Halley Melito, University of Texas at Austin.
“Although I joined Texas THON 4 years ago because it seemed cool, I am leaving with the realization that Texas THON was an opportunity for me to do something bigger than myself. It gave me a different perspective than my Connecticut upbringing, in that there are many people out there who don’t live a perfect life. Texas THON gave me the courage to stand up for others and become an advocate for universal healthcare in America.”

Hayden Cooke, Davidson College.
“I participate in Dance Marathon to serve families in my local community that deal with challenges that I can’t ever completely understand. Through serving them with my time and efforts to fundraise, I get to learn more about them and how every dollar influences their treatments and time at the hospital. Meeting the families who are directly impacted by the work I do makes my efforts that much more meaningful. In hindsight, it has been a great way for me to create community on my campus with other service minded students.”

Isabelle Kovaltchouk, University of Nevada, Reno.
“You get out of Dance Marathon what you put into it, and for students who give it their all, Dance Marathon will add so much meaning and joy to their time in college. Dance Marathon is a truly powerful force, and joining this movement allows students to contribute to changing the world for the better while deriving great personal fulfillment.”

Jacob Meyer, Florida International University.People should fundraise for their member Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals because these kids are our future. It all comes down to being empathetic and understanding the struggles these kids and families go through, as the money is going to providing support to these families and funding resources for the hospitals.”

Jessica Bakalis, Louisiana State University.
“Before Dance Marathon, I had never truly led anything. I would never voluntarily speak in front of a classroom, let alone from center stage with a mic in my hand. Dance Marathon helped me find my voice and identify what kind of citizen of the world I want to be.

Julia Tullman, Ladue Horton Watkins High School. “I’ve always wanted to be a child psychologist when I grow up, and I empathize with the physical and emotional hardships living with a serious illness can have on a child. While I may not be able to find a cure or the right course of treatment for a child, my efforts do make a difference to our Miracle Families. I’m inspired by their resilience and bravery, and it’s my privilege to be involved with this organization that does so much good for so many.

Julianna Keith, University of Pittsburgh.
“Without the fundraising dollars, children’s hospitals will be just that – hospitals. They won’t be the bright, shiny, child-centered places that make pediatric care what it is. One of the main reasons why I want to be a pediatric nurse is from the experiences I’ve had from Dance Marathon. It is an absolute privilege to get to have a hand in keeping kids being kids while in the hospital.”

Kayla Anschuetz, University of Florida.
Dance Marathon was the organization that gave me purpose. When I was in High School, I was unsure where my passions lied. Dance Marathon has helped me realize my own potential and my own drive. As a senior in High School, I was lucky enough to run our High School program at Wellington High School with my best friend. Jake. Just one month until our main event, Jake was diagnosed with a pediatric illness. This transformed my passion into motivation. From that point forward, I wanted to make sure no patient had to go through what Jake did, and no family felt the fear that I witnessed in his parents’ eyes.”

Lillian Hornung, American University.
“I was a part of Dance Marathon in high school and it was a very big part of my high school experience. I knew that it was something I wanted to continue in college. I joined because I was looking for a way to meeting people who had the same values as me and were interested in helping the DC community and working towards a larger goal.”

Meg Laurendeau, University of South Carolina.
When people fundraise for their member Children’s Miracle Network Hospital they are creating a ripple effect to ensure the next generation is healthy and ready to be the future change makers. Dance Marathon has taught me the power of one- the power of one dollar, one person and one campus makes can truly transform lives and communities.”

Mikaela Snitzer, Parkway Central High School.
“My involvement in Dance Marathon has helped me improve my skills in group work and conflict resolution. Being the Executive Director meant I was overseeing many different people, all with diverse learning styles. Being able to accommodate to everyone was a new, but exciting task to take on, as it made me a more well rounded and collaborative teammate.”

Noah Lucero, University of New Mexico.
I participate in Dance Marathon because I know first handedly what it is like to be a family member of an individual who is hospitalized. Being a child life volunteer and wanting to pursue a career in medicine due to the impact that illness has made in my life has demonstrated to me the value of such programs as Child Life and the amazing work that our children’s hospitals do to not only provide world-class care but to also acknowledge that childhoods are sometimes just as important.”

Olivia Mauer, University of Mississippi
. “One of my favorite CMN memories is the hospital tour we went on during my freshman year of college, which was one of the most powerful experiences that propelled my Dance Marathon journey. Being able to see the tangible impact of your organization’s work can be such a powerful motivator and reminder of the power of collective action. Above all, fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals can also be a tool to educate the people around on the pressing needs of your community as well as a way to invest in the future by supporting children’s health.”

Patrick McPartlin, Indiana University. 
“Experiences like witnessing the pure joy of a kid after they had just high-fived a men’s soccer student-athlete prior to an IUDM “For The Kicks” game make everything I did all worthwhile. It was the moments like these that carried me, and many of my peers, through some of the most challenging years of our lives. My “Why I Dance” changed as a result of the eye-opening power our organization has on kids and the joy we can bring them in what may be some of the most challenging years of their lives.”

Rachel Herman, University of Maryland. 
I participate in Dance Marathon because it truly is my happy place. I have always loved kids and cared about helping others, and this combines that for me. I also was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I turned 18. It took many, many months of being sick, many needle pricks and blood tests, and two procedures to get a correct diagnosis. I was an ‘adult’ and it was so scary, I could not imagine going through it when I was younger.”

Sam Meier, Florida State University.
“When I first began Dance Marathon I was incredibly shy and could never in a million years envision myself being the one to run a team. Looking back to my freshman year when I was too nervous to talk during meetings to this past year where I was the one up front leading them truly showed me the impact Dance Marathon has had on me. It not only made me an involved member on my campus, but it also taught me how to be an effective leader, remain positive in unprecedented times, humility, passion, purpose, and it showed me what a difference one person can truly make.”

Sara Camuso, University of Georgia.
“I participate in Dance Marathon because of the people who are involved in the organization. Each and every person I have interacted with in Dance Marathon is so passionate and driven, and I think I feed off of that within the organization and in my daily life. They are probably the most supportive people I have in my life besides my family and it is because every person has a big heart for others.”

Sarah Monesmith, Butler University.
“I was a patient at Riley when I was ten years old for something very minor, yet the impact was seismic. I found out when I was 10 years old that I only had one kidney. My doctor referred me to a nephrologist at Riley just for some baseline testing. I remember seeing kids my age who were just like me only they didn’t get to go home that same day. I felt helpless, guilty, and frustrated for the kids there who were suffering for weeks, months, or even years receiving treatment. I will never forget that day. What moved me to tears as a child catapulted me into action as soon as I had the chance.”

Sarah Neubecker, University of Maryland.
“Fundraising is such an important element of raising awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The unique thing about this is that you get to see exactly where your funds go in real time, showing how crucial fundraising is. It’s been so amazing getting to talk with past patients from the hospital and seeing how largely their lives were impacted by the funds that Dance Marathon programs bring in. When you have the ability to donate, you should take it.”

Serena Santoro, San Diego State University. 
“This organization unites college students, providing a family, through a cause that gives kids hope. Dance Marathon allows students to leave a legacy and lasting impact because they are able to make a real difference in the lives of people in their community. You are able to change kids’ health and turn a hospital that is often a place of heartbreak into a place of hope.

Sophie Sajecki, University of Central Florida.
“This cause is so unique in that it really brings together the community on campus despite individuals’ organizations that they are a part of. In the world of Miracle Network Dance Marathon, it does not matter if you are a member of a sorority, a sports club, a medical student or a part of student government. We all come together to do something so great and the feeling of looking around at students who are all so passionate about the same cause is incredible.”