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Tennessee's VOLthon Receives National Dance Marathon Programming Award

VOLthon at the University of Tennessee Knoxville was recently awarded the Marathon Programming Award at the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference in July. The Marathon Programming Award recognizes an organization that implemented exceptional and engaging programming during their Dance Marathon event that positively contributed to the experience of everyone participating.

VOLthon accepts the Marathon Programming Award at DMLC 2018 in Indianapolis, Ind.

In response to their students’ opinions, VOLthon made an important decision in programming to convert their usual overnight event into a day event. Instead of the marathon being 7pm to 7am, it was changed to 10am to 10pm. These changes to their event schedule, helped VOLthon better incorporate their miracle families into the programming, with a family impacted by their local hospital speaking at the top of every hour to provide inspiration to the students as they completed the final hours of their fundraising.

Dancing on stage with @juwrighttn💃🏻🕺🏼 #emcee #DanceVOLNightLong

A post shared by VOLthon (@volthon) on

It was also the first time in VOLthon history that in-event incentives were offered to fundraising participants who reached designated fundraising levels. Each participant who reached the “comma club” level, which recognizes participants who raise over $1,000 (thus adding a comma into their personal fundraising total), during the marathon was announced on stage and given a button to be recognized for their personal achievement. The participants were also given a ticket for every $20 they raised during the event to be entered into drawings for various prizes.

To ensure that participants were entertained and active throughout the entire marathon, VOLthon’s Morale and Entertainment Directors worked to come up with a solution. They decided to split up the area in half, seen here, ensuring that at least two things were always happening at all times.

In addition to working on their programming, VOLthon coordinated a fundraising push with MizzouThon, the University of Missouri’s Dance Marathon program that was also hosting their event on the same day. The two schools are competitive in the Southeastern Conference in athletics and believed that a little friendly fundraising competition would be successful. Each school sent the other a video of their own miracle kids challenging the rival school. It was a success with both schools raising over $11,000 in just one hour and creating a bond that they plan to continue working on in the year to come.

VOLthon’s efforts during their dance marathon event led to more participants attending and staying at their event, more fundraising during the event, and a record-breaking $102,833.18 raised for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.


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 $250 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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