Every 45 minutes or so, the dancing was interrupted to make time for one of many "Miracle Stories." These included testimonies by those in direct benefit from charity events like Dance Marathon for All Children's Hospital, to remind students just why they were dancing all day, and who they were really helping.
The event's "Miracle Stories" segments consisted of testimonies from children aided by All Children's Hospital and stories of charity efforts, like Dance Marathon. One speaker, who received a successful bone marrow transplant from the hospital, commended students in their participation at the event and directed any interested in donating bone marrow to an information booth in the rear of the ballroom. Many took up the opportunity.
"It's something fun, more than just standing there for the kids," said Calalang, trying to speak over the music and crowd at the event, "DM [Dance Marathon] takes the best of both things, and blends them into one."
One might hold speculations as to how organizers would keep attendees entertained for 17 hours, but those worries were easily quelled by CLCE's many additional features at the event. Students could keep the blood pumping trying their best at the popular dance video game, "Just Dance 3," or take a break from their boogieing in the cozy, secluded "Relaxation Station."
"I see it as a good way to come out, help and have fun," said sophomore Trent Bellet, an attendee at the event. "I came out last year and got a lot out of it. I plan on staying as long as I possibly can!"
Event organizers divided the large crowd into four teams inspired by the marathon's Disney, Nickelodeon, 90s, and fantasy themes, with titles such as "Team Mulan," "Team Fresh Prince," "Team Wonka" and "Team King Julian." Teams then participated in dance games and competitions, inventing their own team battle-cries and participating in a rowdy wheelbarrow race.
The event's VIP Tent, rewarding free catered meals and drinks, was granted toUSF's College of Medicine team, the dance team that raised the most funds for All Children's Hospital.
Teams or individuals raised money by selling BULLS for Kids balloons, Children's Miracle Network bracelets, hosting a letter writing campaign, or gathering direct donations from members, family and friends.
Students and the public donated just by going with their $5 entry fee and there were many opportunities to donate at the event, like buying raffle tickets.
The marathon also took to some interesting turns, with an energetic dancing gorilla and "Jail," a barred cage in the middle of the ballroom in which randomly-selected students were trapped until they could raise $10.
CLCE made a point to reserve the event space well-past Marshall Student Center's closing hours, maintaining the ballroom until the event's finale at 5 a.m.
Around 4:30 a.m., the still-large crowd was hushed for the Marathon's closing ceremony. Organizers kicked off the ceremony by giving awards to the top-donating teams:
Top Residence Hall: USF Housing and Residency Education (HRE)
Top Fraternity: Pi Kappa Alpha
Top Sorority: Sigma Delta Tau
Miracle Cup (Most Spirit Points per team for the year): Beef Studs
Top Individual Fundraiser: With $775, Matthew Perret
An event raffle was also saved for the early-morning finale, giving away a Nook e-reader, Barnes & Noble gift cards, a signed Tampa Bay Lightning stick and Vineyard Vines and Guy Harvey apparel.
Following a final dance, the Beef Studs took the stage to announce this year's fundraising total, which was, of course, painted on their stomachs. Dance Marathon 2012 and all those involved raised $23,910 for All Children's Hospital.
Much of the tired crowd featured familiar faces from the event's opening. The attendees enjoyed dancing, but it was plain to see they also genuinely cared about the cause and what it can mean to children across the country.
If you think you could dance for 17 hours straight, give it a shot next time around. There's plenty to do, no shortage of entertainment and it's all for a good cause.