Medical Humanities Interest Group hosts benefit for Children’s Miracle Network

Roo Boo Dance Marathon at Swinney Recreation Center featured live music, a talent show and a Halloween costume contest.
Roo Boo Dance Marathon at Swinney Recreation Center featured live music, a talent show and a Halloween costume contest.

The School of Medicine’s Medical Humanities Interest Group partnered with other campus organizations to hold a dance marathon that raised $5,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Roo Boo Dance Marathon took place Saturday, Oct. 25, at Swinney Recreation Center. The six-hour event featured live music, a talent show and a Halloween costume contest. At the end of the night, Alexis Vollmer, MS 4, and Brooke McPherson, a student in the Conservatory of Music and Dance, led a spirit dance, which the crowd had rehearsed in segments in the hours leading up to the closing ceremony.

The Medical Humanities Interest Group was the first UMKC organization to successfully plan and stage such a marathon, which have become traditions at other colleges campuses in North America. Dance Marathon is a student-led philanthropic effort to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals. More than 200 individuals registered for the UMKC marathon, which benefited the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater Kansas City and its partner, the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Reid Waldman, MS 4, president of the Medical Humanities Interest Group, said Dance Marathon presents an ideal opportunity for medical students. In addition to leadership and service experiences, the event exposes students to the challenges faced by pediatric patients and their families.

“Children’s Miracle Network does a good job of making sure those families are able to get their kids the care they need and also provide the emotional support and resources for families to understand what’s going on with their kid and help them feel comfortable through the process,” Waldman said. “It’s pretty horrifying to have a sick kid.”

At Roo Boo, the mother of a 13-year-old girl with spina bifida spoke briefly about the help she had received from Children’s Miracle Network. “She spoke, and you could see that some of the students were tearing up,” Waldman said. “It was a really emotional, really great speech.”

Planning for the dance marathon began in July. Waldman and Britt Filkins, office support assistant in the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, recruited 40 volunteers from 10 different campus organizations. Waldman said the wide-ranging effort taught him to be flexible.

With one successfully choreographed marathon in the books, the focus can turn to growing the size — and fundraising — of future events. “The plan is to try to create something sustainable,” Waldman said.