Joey Whelihan

Team Captain Pi Kappa Phi Dance Marathon at UF 2017

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Why I raise money:

              Dance Marathon is a symbol of hope – a hope for a better future for others and one that I know that you can make an impact in. Dance Marathon is for the Miracle Children that are fighting their battles, will fight their battles, have won their battle, and those that have lost it. I firmly believe that any one person can make a difference in the lives of others, and that it the message I want to spread to everyone.

Why I love this cause:

           This year, I was selcected to be the Recruitment Overall for Dance Marathon 2017, meaning that I will work all year along with a team of 18 other passionate and inspiring individuals to make miracles happen for the kids at UF Health Shands Children's Hospital. More specifically, I recruit new organizations, individuals, volunteers, and captains to become a part of our philanthropy and organization to help grow our cause for generations to come. Now, here's how I got here:        

             Going into Dance Marathon 2014 as a dancer, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that I was going to be standing for 26.2 hours (contrary to previously believing I was dancing the whole 26.2 hours), and I knew that I was supposed to bring lots of socks, but I had no idea what Children’s Miracle Network was nor what it really benefitted. Even though I didn’t fully know it at the time, I had found my purpose at UF. I can truly say that getting involved in Dance Marathon has been the best decision I have ever made.

            As I stood for the first Miracle Story and listened to complete strangers talk about how the money that we raise and the time we give directly affected their lives, I was immediately captivated by the message and purpose of Dance Marathon as a symbol of hope. That is really just the beginning of my story.

            The next August I was selected to be a Recruitment Captain, meaning that I'm tasked with presenting to organizations about what Dance Marathon is, and why they should get involved. My first year as a captain (Dance Marathon 2015) helped me realize my calling to Dance Marathon and the families that are a part of our cause. Raising $2 million dollars for the kids wasn’t just a number to me – it was a symbol that we as students are doing something to change the world and to make it a better place. 

            With the new year brought a new team, and a fresh start to a fresh 8 months to prepare for next year’s event. Although I didn’t realize it until about January, my new team and the Dance Marathon community had become my family. I talked about the kids as if they were in my family and my teams members as if they were my brothers and sisters.

            I am so passionate about Dance Marathon because of the marathon aspect of it. The marathon meaning is two-fold: 1) it is a 26.2 hour event and 2) what we are doing is similar to a marathon. We are all running to a goal that is a world where parents don’t have to worry about their kids getting sick and where we have eliminated cancer and other chronic childhood illness. When I got to shadow a pediatric oncologist this past year, he told me that all of patients, regardless of the type of cancer that they have, have about an 80% chance that they can get cured. That is a HUGE number! And it further exemplifies the mission of Dance Marathon as a beacon of hope to families and to kids. However, I do Dance Marathon for the 20% that don’t get cured – I am passionate about this cause because I don’t think that anyone should have to suffer. Everyone has the right to a fulfilling and healthy life, and we are working and dancing to make that a possibility. I will not stop dancing until that 80% turns into 100%.

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