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Case Western Reserve University Senior Receives 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here. 

Dance Marathon Involvement: Through my involvement in SpartanTHON at Case Western Reserve University, I personally fundraised $2,129 and served in the following positions: Internal Director, Entertainment Director, and Graphic Design Chair.

Campus/Community Involvement: Tour Guide; Global Ethical Leaders Society; Risk and Responsibility Leader; Alpha Phi Fraternity (Director of Philanthropy); Order of Omega (Greek Leadership Society); Research Assistant.

Awards/Recognition: Case Alumni Scholarship; Dean’s High Honors and Honors List; Alpha Eta Mu Beta (BME Honors Society)

Post-Graduation Plans: In the coming years, I plan to pursue a 1-2 year post-baccalaureate research position before going to medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

I dance because it gives me a chance to make a difference in tomorrow’s world, today. On a college campus, it is so easy to get trapped in the campus bubble, focused only on the academics and the social life. In such a high-pressure, focused setting, students quickly become complacent about the bigger issues in the world around us – healthcare access, environmental preservation, childhood illness and so much more – because we’re so focused on making it through the next day or week of exams. Like so many other students I have high aspirations: I want to become a pediatric oncologist and change the world someday, but why not today? To me, Dance Marathon is an opportunity to make a difference and help people right now. I may not be able to cure cancer or save lives today, but I can definitely help make a child’s patient experience better or give someone else the tools to save a life today. Dance Marathon is a way for me to give back to my community and to start taking action now, rather than waiting for later. I dance because there is no time like the present to make the world a better place.

Vanitha with members of the SpartanTHON executive board.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

Dance Marathon has been one of the most transformational leadership experiences of my undergraduate career. In the past year serving on our Steering Committee as the Internal Director, I know that my leadership style has evolved immensely from that of when I first joined SpartanTHON. I learned how to be a mentor, how to teach and guide people while still allowing them to create and develop their own visions. I learned how to communicate with various personality types, and how to adapt my own hands-off leadership style to other people’s needs. I learned conflict resolution – how to handle my own disagreements with others and how to facilitate conversations to come to peaceful agreement. I learned how to take a big-picture idea and break it down into actionable, detail-oriented pieces. I learned how to delegate and I learned how to identify strengths and weaknesses. I could go on for days all the leadership skills that Dance Marathon has taught me, but I will end with the last and possibly most important one. Through my time in DM, I learned how to articulate and share my passion with others in order to empower them to embrace their passions and take action. I learned how to make a change, and how to convince people to come with me.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

The beauty of Miracle Network Dance Marathon for students is that it really does have something for everyone. You get as much out of it as you’re willing to give! Maybe you don’t have much time but still want to support the cause – being a dancer gives you the opportunity to fundraise and advocate through simple means like social media, emailing and canning while still getting the amazing, empowering, exhilarating experience of the Marathon! On the other hand, if you do want to get more involved, joining the planning committee gives you the chance to give back to our community on a daily basis by planning events and acting as a student advocate for childhood health. Equally so, you gain leadership skills, service opportunities, organizational skills, and a chance to make lifelong friends. In Dance Marathon, every dollar, action and word can make a difference in a child’s life – it’s up to you just how much of a difference you want to make!

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

My first year on the executive board, I served as the Entertainment Director and planned the day-of for the marathon – from the schedule to the in-event fundraising to everything in between. It was our first year in a new location, and the change in venue required a very different approach to the schedule and activities. Pulling off this day was a huge accomplishment for me, but even better was the opportunity to take what I learned last year and apply it this year. As Internal Director, I had the opportunity to mold and shape our executive board and our year. With my insight into Marathon planning, I was able to provide relevant insight and feedback to our Entertainment Director and help her grow the position to include more collaboration, delegation and adaption. With my other Steering members, we were able to completely redesign the in-event fundraising plan to grow our fundraising during the event by almost 50%, and cater to many more dancers, visitors and families. All of this is essentially a long-winded way of saying, my proudest personal accomplishment in Dance Marathon was this year’s Dance Marathon event because not only was it a wonderful event that I helped bring to life, but it was also a demonstration of the personal development I helped facilitate on our executive board. It is also a long-winded way of saying that none of my ideas and contributions would have mattered without the tireless work of so many other members – it truly takes a village.

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

No parent anticipates a life of hospital visits and medications for their kids. In every case, families are thrust into the midst of the high-stress, fast-paced lifestyle of childhood illness, a lifestyle filled with tears and pain. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals work to alleviate this pain just a little, by making the family and patient’s experience a little bit better. Whether that’s through child life specialists, tutors, innovation grants or cutting-edge technology, CMN Hospitals try to make the experience as positive as possible, by assisting the families in any way possible. Every kid deserves to have a childhood, and no kid deserves a life of illness, but until there is a cure, your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital is here to make their stories, and yours, a little brighter.

Vanitha with a Miracle kid at SpartanTHON’s 2018 Dance Marathon.


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $220 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

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