Students, football players raise funds at UADM

Rachel Brown

Trace Boyett was born with severe jaundice. With donations to the Children’s Miracle Network, Trace was able to have a special bassinet that ultimately saved his life. Today, he is eight. He has undergone 12 surgeries since birth and has cataracts and glaucoma in both eyes. Despite this, his family said Trace is a happy and outgoing kid. He is the Children’s Miracle Network spokeskid for Columbus, Ga., and an original Alabama Dance Marathon family member. It is with the help of donations made to Children’s Miracle Network that Trace is who he is today, said his mother, Wendy Boyett.

On Saturday, hundreds of students and families from across Alabama joined together to stand for the kids at the third annual University of Alabama Dance Marathon. Trace and his family have attended all three dance marathons hosted by the University.

UADM is an organization that fundraises all year to support the Children’s Miracle Network and Children’s of Alabama. The dance marathon is the end-of-year celebration where students and families gather to dance, play games and have fun for 10 hours, from 10 a.m until 8 p.m.

“Seeing the students donate so much of their time and effort to raise money for kids they’ve never met, to see students [this] age so wholeheartedly into something just makes me so proud,” Boyett said. “I just want to hug everyone.”

Trace said his favorite parts of the dance marathon are the family room, the dancing and the Wild West hour.

Students from across campus attended the event Saturday, laden with boas, neon tutus, silly hats and face paint. Members of The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team were also in attendance.

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“It was nice to get away from everyday life, and it’s always to help somebody else out,” Ryan Kelly, offensive lineman, said. “We’ve met some fun kids, and it’s been a really fun time.”

Kelly said anytime football players can give back to the community, they like to take the opportunity.

“That right there shows that this school is doing something right,” Boyett said after seeing members of the football team present.

The dance marathon program began at Indiana University in 1991 after a student, Ryan White, died of AIDS. His friends started the dance marathon in his memory. A few years later, the Children’s Miracle Network partnered with the dance marathon, and since then the organization has grown to high school and college campuses across the country, Katie Klootwyk, president of UADM, said.

UADM is still a young organization, said Klootwyk, but its fundraising efforts are increasing every year. In its first year, UADM was able to raise around $15,000. This number grew to $56,000 last year, and on Saturday, UADM announced that it succeeded in raising $83,061.09 this year.

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“A lot of the programs, they take off and they gather steam,” Klootwyk said.

She said she hopes to see the amount of money raised each year continue to increase as the program grows.

“I love being able to do something that is directly helping people that are going through something that I cannot even imagine,” Klootwyk said. “I was really lucky as a kid. I didn’t have any issues with cancer or disease or anything like that, and so to know that I am just helping out a little bit is rewarding for me.”

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