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Hour 16

18 Feb

In order to give you the inside scoop of the 2012 UNC Dance Marathon, check out the blog every hour starting at 7:30 p.m. We will post a short quotation from a dancer who will respond to the question “what’s your inspiration for this hour?”

It’s hour 16, what’s your inspiration?

“My inspiration is family hour. I’m really excited because it’s for the kids.”

– Shakeelah Carter, first year dancer, first year, Dancer Team #11



Smith Center Children’s Challenge unites fans to cause

28 Jan
By Megan Turner
This winter, basketball fans will be able to help area children’s hospitals while cheering on their favorite teams.
On Jan. 26 the Smith Center Children’s Challenge, sponsored by UNC Dance Marathon, encouraged every fan to donate $1 to N.C. Children’s Hospital. On Feb. 16 the Cameron Crazies Who Care will also encourage fans to donate money to Duke Children’s Hospital. As an added bonus, the two organizations will be competing to see who can raise the most money.

This event is different from UNC-DM’s other canning events. The Fundraising Projects committee works with UNC sports marketing to have the UNC-DM video placed on the UNC athletics website.

Carrie Dobbins, Fundraising Projects chair said, “The Smith Center Children’s Challenge is a success because it brings together two schools that would not otherwise interact for a chance to raise money for two wonderful hospitals, Duke Children’s Hospital and N.C. Children’s Hospital.”

Forty committee members canned at the fourth Annual Smith Center Children’s Challenge from 5 p.m. through halftime. All money collected benefits the patients and families of N.C. Children’s Hospital.

Spotlight On: Clare Merlin, two-time OC member from 2006-2008

28 Jan

By Emily Evans

Clare Merlin fell into UNC Dance Marathon almost by chance: She was offered a spot on a committee, the now-defunct “UNC-DM Support Network,” when a few other members did not show up during her first year at UNC. After that, she says, the rest was history.

“After my first Family Hour as a dancer, I was hooked,” she said. “After some time as a sub-chair, I had a revelation that I loved UNC-DM, enjoyed being a leader, was growing more passionate about the organization every day, and therefore wanted to apply for the Overall Committee.”

And apply she did, serving as the 2007 Community Events chair her during junior year and as the inaugural Entertainment chair during her senior year, the year Will Ferrell famously appeared onstage at the marathon. The experience, she said, was life changing, and helped define her years at UNC.

“My experience with the UNC-DM taught me many things, including event planning, working 80 hours a week, and staying awake for 50 hours straight without caffeine,” Merlin said. “Being on the Overall Committee and collaborating with others was a nice contrast to being my own committee chair and leading committee members.”

Merlin continues to give back today. She works as a school counselor, a job she says frequently draws on the teamwork and leadership skills she learned through her involvement with UNC-DM. Merlin also serves on the Atlanta Carolina Club board and is involved with the Junior Service League.

“These organizations are great and my UNC-DM experience certainly is helpful when working with them,” she said, “but I don’t really think any other non-profit or charity will play as prominent a role in my life as UNC-DM did. There simply isn’t much that could top it.”

Though Merlin has “far too many UNC-DM memories to choose just one favorite,” she can certainly pinpoint a few moments that stand out from her experience. Merlin said that some of her favorite life memories, not just UNC-DM memories, came from the 2008 Marathon her senior year: “I felt like my college career (and basketball fandom) culminated when Roy Williams walked through the Fetzer Gym doors and I was able to speak with him,” she said.

“The experience was only topped by Will Ferrell’s visit to the marathon a few hours later. I remember watching Will speak and feeling such pride and camaraderie with my OC peers and sub-chairs that it was all happening.”

Looking back today, Merlin said she is even better able to appreciate her time working with UNC-DM. “It was such a thrill to devote so much of my time and energy to this one organization whose mission I believe so strongly in,” she said.

“But better yet- it was such a fantastic and almost surreal experience to do it all alongside so many other passionate individuals.”

Get your UNC-DM swag to rep at the 2012 marathon

26 Jan
By Jordan Sutton
With the 2012 UNC Dance Marathon less than one month away, dancers (and other UNC-DM supporters) still have a chance to buy some UNC-DM merchandise to rock during the marathon. Take a look at some of the options that are available:
—NEW short sleeved UNC-DM t-shirt: $10
The back of this shirt sums up UNC-DM’s mission: “A dream, a dance, a life, a chance.”
—UNC-DM sunglasses: $5
Perfect for raving in, these shades are helpful for any outdoor outings that occur during the marathon.
—UNC-DM button: $2
Show your support even if you aren’t wearing a UNC-DM t-shirt. Plus, when the marathon is over, put the button on your backpack to continue showing your love for the cause.

—UNC-DM sweatshirt: $20

The perfect way to rep’ UNC-DM, especially now that it’s winter. Also, it’s comfy– something invaluable while dancing at the marathon.

—“Find Meaning” long-sleeved shirt: $12

The “for the kids” down the sleeve says it all. Rock this navy blue shirt as a way of showing why you’re taking a stand at the marathon.

—UNC-DM sweatpants: $20

These are navy blue with “for the kids” written down the leg. You know you’re going to want some comfy pants amidst the 24 hours of dancing. These are a perfect way to gain that comfort while still showing it’s all for the kids.

—Past marathon shirts

—2011 marathon: $5          

—2010 marathon: $2

Though dancers will receive this year’s spy-themed t-shirt at the marathon, let’s be honest, you will need to change your shirt in the 24 hour period. What better option is there than to change into another UNC-DM shirt?

—UNC-DM greeting cards: $8

These cards feature pictures drawn by children who have been patients at N.C. Children’s Hospital. Each card contains the child’s story. You can use these as thank you cards to send to people who have supported you financially as a dancer.

—How do I buy merch?

Merchandise is available for purchase at almost all UNC-DM events. Dancers, and others who want to buy UNC-DM gear, can also come by the UNC-DM office, located in the Student Union in room 3508D, to buy merchandise.

Soon, UNC-DM gear will be available online. Check back for more details!

Ben & Jerry’s grand re-opening celebration demonstrates UNC-DM partnership

18 Jan

By Jordan Sutton

ImageWednesday, Jan. 11, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Ben & Jerry’s hosted a re-opening celebration that signaled the addition of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels to its business. The newly opened eatery gave away free ice cream as well as free pretzels during the celebration. UNC Dance Marathon helped publicize the event and provided entertainment from campus groups and small bands. Ben & Jerry’s and Auntie Anne’s allowed UNC-DM to collect donations during the event as well as sell merchandise.

The re-opening event is just one example of the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between Ben & Jerry’s and UNC-DM. Ben & Jerry’s is one of UNC-DM’s biggest supporters, providing help throughout the year.

Ben & Jerry’s donates ice cream to events in the hospital, hosts Vermonsters that benefit UNC-DM, donates ice cream to the marathon event and allows UNC-DM to collect donations during free cone days and other events.

Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, Jerry Greenfield, made a special appearance on Wednesday to oversee the re-opening celebration.

“We have a great partnership with Ben & Jerry’s and appreciate all that they do for us throughout the year,” Michael Hieronymus, Operations committee chair, said.

The re-opening celebration was deemed a success by Hieronymus who said that despite the rain, there was a surprisingly large turnout.

“The support Ben & Jerry’s gives us throughout the year is unbelievable. Its support indicates a genuine interest in the work we are doing to support the patients and families of N.C. Children’s Hospital and this community,” Hieronymus said.


Zeroed In: Where Are They Now? Former Community Events chair uses skills gained from UNC-DM in Italy and D.C.

2 Jan

By Megan Turner

On the first day of each month, be sure to look for this blog post:”Zeroed In: Where Are They Now?” where we feature a past Overall Committee member who shares the ways in which UNC-DM has impacted his or her post-Carolina life. This month, learn about 2005 Community Events committee chair Mary Grace Hicks. 

Check out the newsletter for a link to this blog post as well as more UNC-DM stories. To subscribe to the newsletter, email Kaylee Baker ( To view it, visit

Photo Caption: Photo Courtesy of Mary Grace Hicks: Hicks enjoyed a visit from her UNC-DM friends while working at Borgo Finocchieto. From left to right: Liz Kelly (UNC-DM Fundraising Chair), Julia Shalen (UNC-DM Overall Coordinator), Alison Ross (UNC-DM Hospital Chair), Brooke Ebel (UNC-DM University Relations Chair), and Mary Grace Hicks.

As the 2005 Community Events committee chair, Mary Grace Hicks gained valuable experience that led her to Italy and now back to UNC to pursue a Master of Business Administration. .

Hicks initially signed up to dance to meet new people, but soon realized the cause was one she wanted to stay involved in. She served as a member of the Publicity committee and as a sub-chair of the Fundraising Projects committee before becoming the Community Events chair. Within these committees, Hicks painted cubes, banners and designed three years of dancer t-shirts.

After graduating, Hicks moved to Italy to work as a writer and researcher for Borgo Finocchieto, a small resort in Tuscany. She created an in-room guidebook with information about the area.

In 2007, Hicks moved to Washington, D.C. as Borgo Finocchieto’s Manager of Marketing and Business Development. To enhance her skills, she enrolled at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in the summer of 2011.

The work Hicks did as a member of the Overall Committee was vital to role in the workforce and in pursuing her MBA. As chair of the Community Events committee, she said she learned how to “network with the community, grow awareness about the UNC-DM cause and build the UNC-DM brand,”

“Now that I am in business school, I frequently work in and sometimes lead diverse teams. UNC-DM is where I first learned to harness these strengths,” she said.

Besides the career experience, Hicks made lifelong friends through UNC-DM. “Working on a cause this important is a way to develop deep, lasting friendships because you really know the character of those people,” Hicks said. “Working together was fun and we leaned heavily on one another for support in our individual projects,” Hicks said. “I never had to ask twice for help with anything.”

Another benefit was knowing she was helping a truly worthwhile cause. When the OC met to decide what grants should be funded, Hicks said she saw the importance of everyone’s hard work. “There were hundreds of worthy projects that would make life in the hospital better for families,” she said.

Through all Hicks’s experiences she has realized UNC-DM had such a large impact because of the supportive campus. “It makes me proud to be a Tar Heel,” she said.

Whole Foods Percentage Day Helps UNC-DM Spread Mission

2 Jan

By Megan Turner

Members of UNC Dance Marathon tell Whole Foods' patrons about the organization's mission.

The Whole Foods Percentage Day held Nov. 30, 2011, was an important day for UNC Dance Marathon as it helped the organization spread its message throughout the community.

Whole Foods organizes five percent days or community giving days several times each year to help its team members reach out to the local community. At the end of the day, Whole Foods donates five percent of net sales to local nonprofits or educational organizations.

Organizations apply to be recognized. Whole Foods then holds special meetings to determine which organization should be rewarded with a five percent day. Each Whole Foods team member votes for his top four organizations.

This year, Whole Foods of Chapel Hill recognized UNC-DM for the first time.

Wendy Geise, Whole Foods’ Marketing Team Leader, said UNC-DM was selected because of its impact in the community.

“UNC-DM is a huge asset to so many in the Chapel Hill community and beyond. Thousands of children’s lives are impacted through their work to provide assistance to patients and their families,” Geise said.

She added that UNC-DM complements Whole Foods.

“UNC-DM is a good fit for Whole Foods to support as it is student-run, encourages involvement, fitness through dance and open to all,” Geise said.

The Overall Committee applied and representatives from Whole Foods came to UNC and filmed the OC’s competition video in front of the Old Well. The OC sang the song “What I Like About You,” by the Romantics, replacing its lyrics with that of their own. They also read a For the Kids story with illustrated flashcards.

“I think our energy and excitement for such an awesome cause is what won them over,” said Olivia Barrow, Publicity committee chair.

During time leading up to the percentage day, the OC spent time in Whole Foods telling patrons about UNC-DM’s purpose. Val Hansen, Outreach committee chair, says this was one of the reasons the day was a success.

“Opportunities like this allow us to foster support for the patients and families at the hospital in every way, and we’re so glad we had a chance to take part in this program,” Hansen said.

Barrow also said the percentage day was successful.

“We’ve never had an opportunity like that before, so we’re really excited because the success of the day will translate into an increase in how many patients and families we can impact in more ways next year at N.C. Children’s Hospital,” she said.

Anna Volz, Morale committee sub-chair, believes the day was successful because the community was able to conveniently support UNC-DM.

“I think it was so successful because it was a way for people to help without having to make a lot of effort since many people who ended up helping us out were just doing their normal shopping,” she said.

The day was also an important opportunity to communicate the UNC-DM message to the community.

“I think that the Whole Foods Percentage Day was important because it not only raised awareness about UNC-DM and the cause, but it also was a way to connect UNC-DM with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, which is crucial for the marathon’s success,” Volz said.

Hansen added that the mission of UNC-DM couldn’t be accomplished without community support.

“We are able to help families from all over North Carolina, but we couldn’t do so without support from the Chapel Hill community and other communities across the state,” Hansen said.