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DragonTHON at Drexel University wins 2023 Ryan White Award for Overcoming Adversity  

Miracle Network Dance Marathon recognized top performing Dance Marathon programs at the Dance Marathon Leadership Conference (DMLC) held in St. Louis, MO from August 3-6. 

The Ryan White Award for Overcoming Adversity is given annually to the program whose experience in overcoming a significant obstacle best exemplifies Ryan White’s spirit and perseverance in the face of adversity. This year’s award winner, DragonTHON at Drexel University faced many challenges that could have made it easy for the program to decide that hosting a Dance Marathon event on their campus just wasn’t going to be possible. However, DragonTHON persevered to overcome each obstacle placed in their way, all while increasing funds raised by an outstanding 350% year-over-year.  

DragonTHON at Drexel University had to overcome several obstacles to be a functioning program on their campus. From difficulty in receiving approval to host the event to a limited operating budget and costly fees to use university spaces and resources, the program had to get creative to raise the necessary operational funds to simply cover the costs to host their event. Through hosting a Superbowl squares fundraiser, merchandise sales and other small fundraisers they were ultimately able to raise enough operational funds to reserve event space and hire the required staff to receive approval to move forward with their event.  

Another challenge they had to overcome was working with the University in finding ways to interact with their miracle families and providing the needed cause connection moments to their participants and staff members. DragonTHON was informed in October that for students to interact with minors – either in-person or virtually – all participants would need to be credentialed including a fingerprint and background check done three months prior to the event. Knowing this was not going to be possible, the Executive Director and Hospital Advisor worked with the University to compromise on a protocol for hosting miracle families at events that would not require credentialing attendees.  

While challenges continued to pop up throughout the year, the DragonTHON team never wavered in their determination and worked diligently to creatively overcome each obstacle to continue fundraising for their local hospital. Congratulations, Drexel University! 

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 their local member hospital of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These students work tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds one dollar at a time by making the ask to family and friends. Their hard work culminates in a celebration on campus or virtually, where participants can rally together as a community for their local 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 $350 million since 1991.