University of South Carolina 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: During my four years of involvement with University of South Carolina Dance Marathon, I personally fundraised $50,018 and served in the following positions: Vice President of Partnerships; Sponsorships Director; Morale Team Member; Hero/Fundraiser

Campus/Community Involvement: Phi Mu; Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity (Master of Rituals)

Post-Graduation Plans: I will be working for Textron in their Leadership Development Program in Integrated Supply Chain. I will be moving every 6 months for the next two years.

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

Of all my accomplishments during my 4 years of involvement, I am most proud of my personal fundraising and my development of USCDM’s sponsorship branch. Over the past two years serving as the Sponsorships Director and Vice President of Partnerships, I have seen this branch grow and flourish into one that mirrored our program’s momentum. My first year as Sponsorships Director was the first year we had a presenting sponsor. I had decided to not use a traditional “sponsorship packet” as we had every year prior, and instead focused on creating individualized pitches with specific types of exposure that would work best for their marketing needs. This was also the first year we grew our assets to include additional exposure and established our color team sponsor level. I worked on increasing the value of this sponsorship by doing data analysis on our social media presence and determined that this was our most valuable asset with an average value of over $2,000 per post based on impression rate. Over the last two years overseeing this branch, I have also established a sponsorship renewal program to get our sponsors to increase their return rate. This past year we brought in over $28,000 worth of sponsorship money and over $6,000 of necessary in-kind donations. This combined value is over a 240% increase from the year before I stepped into the position.

I am also extremely proud of my impact on USC Dance Marathon over the last 4 years of fundraising. This year alone, I personally fundraised over $24,000. With my management of our Hospitality branch, I helped secure the donation of over $19,000 worth of food. With my increased help with our Sponsorships branch, we brought in over $34,000 worth of monetary and critical in-kind donations. My combined impact on our organization this year totaled to over $77,000. Knowing that the few hours out of my day that I spent on Dance Marathon is making a tangible impact on our hospital is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of my time with Dance Marathon.

Alicia holding the “1” from the USC Dance Marathon total reveal after they raised over $1 million in 2018.

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

Dance Marathon has shaped my leadership style in many ways. When I first came into my Sponsorships Director position my sophomore year, I had very little idea of what I was getting myself into. As a member of Morale, I was able to lead my peers during the event, which I was confident with. However, as a second year Chemical Engineering student, I had very little knowledge on sales or sponsorships and only had confidence in my professional communication skills, my desire to learn, and want to impact as many children in the hospital as possible. Though my experience as Sponsorships Director, I learned how to grow my committee’s skills, handle disinterest in the branch, and take rejection. This only carried on into my position as VP of Partnerships where my main goal was to grow the committees and directors under me so that those skills would help sustain the branches growth in the future.

The most difficult thing I had to deal with in this past year as a leader is how to deal with member conflict and dissatisfaction. As a voluntary organization, many members found that sponsorships and hospitality were not what they had expected. I had to create new means of communication and be a mediator in many cases. I had to figure out a way to make two people who didn’t get along realize the bigger picture and how to approach the conflict in a proper manner. I was able to learn how different personalities communicate, and pinpoint a specific approach to make sure they responded in the best way possible. I found many times that people just need to be reminded of what drives them, whether that was personal development, the cause, or the fun parts of the organization. I realized I just needed to give people a little encouragement or a small push that helped them cross the finish line. Giving my members this training and these communication skills helped sustain the branch and also prepared them for future endeavors.

In addition, the most important lesson I learned as a leader has to do with our campaign for the year: The power of one. I learned this year that it only takes the power of one idea, dream, or person to make a difference in the world. A single person does have the power to impact an organization, regardless of their position or title. Anyone has the ability to make a change.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

I participated in my first Dance Marathon because it was my sorority’s philanthropy and I wanted to support my chapter. Soon after my first event, my reasons began to grow and change. I came back the second year because of the experiences with the Child Life program—the program USCDM fully funds today—and the impact it makes on our miracle families. I saw how critical this program was to the children treated at the hospital and I wanted to do everything I could to help. The following semester, I began volunteering in a playroom in the oncology center with my sorority. I found out that the money I had raised during Dance Marathon helped fund rooms like the one I was volunteering in to give parents a break and let the kids play. Here I met a boy named Bentley, who was waiting to get blood paperwork back for his blood disease. He was super shy at first, but warmed up to me quickly. I was smitten with him. For that moment while we colored on a butterfly printout, I realized that his mom had gotten the chance to rest her head against the wall and take a quick nap. We played for about 45 minutes until I had to leave. For 45 minutes I got to make Bentley smile and let his mom have a moment to breathe. This is why I do Dance Marathon today. I do it not only for the kids in the hospital who need some comforting, but also for their siblings and families who are going through a different kind of pain. With my efforts, I can help distract them from this pain through the Child Life Program and the new Dance Marathon at the University of South Carolina Playground.

Alicia with members of Phi Mu who serve on the USC Dance Marathon executive board.

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

I can think of so many reasons to get involved with Dance Marathon. The first and most obvious is for the 150,000 children treated at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital each year, and for the 62 children that enter a CMN Hospital every minute. It is the most incredible feeling to give up a Saturday to impact the lives of those who did not get to choose their outcome. You also get to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself.

Being involved in a Miracle Network Dance Marathon means impacting your community in a way that makes so many people’s lives better. Not only does Dance Marathon impact the hospital and the families, it also impacts the students involved. It turns them into better leaders and helps develop skills that they can use in their future lives. Not to mention that Dance Marathon is the best day of your life. It is packed with fun things to do surrounded by people who are your best friends, or people you build connections with because you are all fighting for the same cause. The relationships I have made and the personal growth I have seen in younger members is incredible. I have seen people turn from shy freshmen, to junior directors managing a committee and doing incredible things for our hospital. If someone doesn’t want to do Dance Marathon for the cause, they should do it for themselves. Dance Marathon changes the lives of patients, advisors, and heroes in ways no other organization can.

Alicia and graduating members from USC Dance Marathon.

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

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provides much needed medical and emotional support for families who didn’t choose to be in the positions they are in. If you imagine any of your family that has been in the hospital before, you know how scary and sad of a place it can be. Rather than children needing to be treated at regular hospitals, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provides kids with the best experience they can get being in a hospital. They provide for the play rooms, specialized therapy, service animals, and a kid-friendly atmosphere. I encourage people to think of if their child was in an accident or got sick. The first place you would take them would be the children’s hospital. CMN Hospitals make sure that your child is given the best care and experience. It is so important to donate to CMN Hospitals because you never know when you or someone you love will be impacted by your donation.

USC Dance Marathon Main Event in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, March 3.


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.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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