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FSU Senior, Taylor Williams, Receives 2020 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, 25 students were selected to receive the 2020 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

Hometown: Naples, Florida

Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Social Work and Hospitality

Dance Marathon Involvement: My involvement with Dance Marathon at FSU began my Freshman year as a Dancer. From there, I earned the position of Fundraising Coordinator my sophomore year where I learned how to create, plan, and execute fundraising campaigns and pushes that would be successful in various communities. As a Membership Coordinator my junior year, I had the opportunity to build relationships with Delegates and participants that were a part of their respective organizations. With all this experience, I was compelled to apply to be the Executive Director of Dance Marathon at FSU 2020 and, to my luck, had the once of a lifetime opportunity to lead this organization that has provided me with so much. Within my four years with DM at FSU, I have personally raised $23,601 For The Kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and FSU’s College of Medicine Pediatric Outreach Program..

Campus/Community Involvement: Active Member of Kappa Kappa Gamma (2016 – Present Day); Recruitment Counselor for the Panhellenic Association (Spring 2018 – Summer 2018); Director of Recruitment Counselors for the Panhellenic Association (Fall 2018 – Fall 2019)

Awards/Recognition: Garnet and Gold Key Fall 2019 Inductee; FSU’s Torchbearer 100 Spring 2020 Inductee; Garnet and Gold Scholar Society Spring 2020 Inductee

Post-Graduation Plans: As of right now, I don’t have any set plans for life after graduation. However, I will continue to follow my passion of helping people. More specifically, I would love to work in a non-profit space or in a job where I can continue helping student leaders reach their fullest potential. And, of course, I will join Dance Marathon at FSU as an alumni member!

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

For me, Dance Marathon has been many things. Dance Marathon has been a space for me to grow as a leader. It has been a space for me to find my true passion, helping others. It has been a space for me to grow close to the most genuine individuals I now consider family. But more than anything, participating in Dance Marathon empowered me to fight for something that mattered. Dance Marathon showed me that a group of hundreds of students can actually make a difference. I stayed a part of this organization because of the combined effort and belief of the students around me that spending time doing anything other than attending meetings or fundraising or recruiting new participants wouldn’t leave the same impact on my life as Dance Marathon has. The people that surrounded me throughout my college career were nothing but uplifting, selfless, inspiring and powerful. And, without Dance Marathon, I would have never had the opportunity to call those people, the students, the advisors, the miracle families and the miracle children my family.

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

Adaptability became a key factor and skill I came to know very well. Throughout this year, we constantly worked to find a solution as a team. Because of the size of this organization, I also learned the power in delegation. With every leadership position I’ve ever held, I liked being in control of the outcome. However, with DM, I figured out this wasn’t possible and I would have to have faith in the team surrounding me. As soon as I started to delegate tasks, I saw internal members start to feel more valued and more empowered in their work as student leaders. While delegation helped this organization run more effectively, it also allowed for others to grow in their leadership capabilities. DM also allowed me to further my understanding of circle of influence vs. circle of control. I made it a point to focus on the things I could control rather than dwelling on the things I couldn’t. Falling back on this idea allowed me to feel settled if I knew in the back of my mind I did everything I could and my team did everything they could to make something successful. Finally, with that, DM helped me recognize there are different definitions of success and sometimes the most important one isn’t the number held up for the public to see.

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

I grew within this organization hearing “people follow people.” While this is true, I quickly realized you have to give the people invested some reason to stay. With that, in our 25th year, I focused on fostering an environment where people already invested felt more valued than ever before. This was done through segmented communication, looking at the people we were contacting and making sure the messaging was more concise based on the population of participants or donors we were communicating to. We also did this through our new initiative, Leave Your Legacy, an opportunity for our members to explore how they, as an individual, have impacted this organization while also recognizing how we’ve had an impact on FSU’s campus as a whole. In all, I found that the platform put in place where students could openly communicate feedback and ideas created an opportunity to lead this team in a way it hadn’t been led before. I found myself constantly turning feedback into different ideas to implement based on the way I felt our campus and our community would respond best. I am proud of the past year for I feel our students were finally heard and we dedicated time to pour into them as individual people rather than an organization at large.

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

Walking onto campus for the first time can bring on a whirlwind of emotions. How will I make friends? What will I get involved in? How will I survive here alone? And as you continue walking through campus and come across an individual handing you a flyer that reads “For The Kids,” or you see a table that reads “Dance Marathon,” I encourage you to follow it and I promise that is the last time you will walk campus alone. Just as much as DM is an organization raising money for children fighting against pediatric illness or injury, DM is also an organization that will provide a home for you. DM is comprised of students all alike in their want to help others and with a shared passion comes a unique family that will stand alongside you throughout your college career and beyond. Yes, it is a fundraising organization dedicated to providing a brighter tomorrow for children like Powie, Bella, and Caden, but it is also a space for you to grow as a leader, as a fundraiser, as a friend and, most importantly, as a human.

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

By donating to a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, you are providing tangible items like preemie diapers, medical equipment, and distraction items like crayons and video games that provide a sense of normalcy within hospital walls. But, your donation also goes to research that furthers children’s health. Research that will soon provide cures. Research that will allow us to dance in celebration. When we say every penny matters, we mean it for every penny gets the world closer to no stress of any kid living nothing but a healthy childhood.

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. 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 6-40 hour celebration on their campus, where participants have the opportunity to rally together as a community for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. 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.

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