Just Dance

UF College of Medicine students Travus White and Nicole Melanson are organizing the college’s first Dance Marathon team, which will raise money to benefit Shands Hospital for Children. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Four years ago, UF College of Medicine student Travus White found himself rocking out to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” in the O’Connell Center along with 800 other UF students.

This April, the second-year medical student is sure he’s going to have to break out his “Gangnum Style” moves and he’s ready.

That’s because White is organizing the first ever UF College of Medicine Dance Marathon team.

“I had this vision that our school would be involved,” said White, who is vice president of community service for UF’s American Medical Association Medical Student Section and participated in the event as an undergraduate with his fraternity.

Dance Marathon at UF, which will be held April 13 to 14, is a 26.2-hour event benefiting Shands Hospital for Children. Each year, hundreds of participants keep moving, along with pediatric patients and their families, to raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“I love that it has such an impact,” White said. “Dance Marathon has this spark…that no matter how you feel about community service, it changes people’s minds.”

Last year about 815 dancers participating in Dance Marathon at UF raised more than $886,000 for Shands Hospital for Children at UF through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Started 18 years ago, Dance Marathon has donated more than $5.3 million, making it the most successful student-run philanthropy in the Southeastern U.S.

Heather Mears, director of development for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at
Shands Hospital for Children at UF,said the money raised is split between Shands Hospital for Children and the UF department of pediatrics. Funds are used for everything from research and equipment to helping fund programs like the hospital’s child’s life or Arts in Medicine programs, she said.

“I think the main reaction is why hasn’t there been a team before,” White said. “We are at Shands and are advocates for that health care community. So I just went with it.”

Travus White and Nicole Melanson practice train for the 26.2-hour Dance Marathon, “Gangnum Style”. The Dance Marathon benefits Shands Hospital for Children at UF. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

The College of Medicine’s team now has about 50 registered team members following a Nov. 14 information meeting that attracted almost 100 students. White’s goal is to enlist 70 dancing members.

“I think this is really an inaugural event to have College of Medicine students involved with Children’s Miracle Network,” said Scott Rivkees, M.D., chair and professor of pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine, who spoke at the meeting. “This is phenomenal.”

White’s co-delegate is Nicole Melanson, a first year medical student who also enjoyed participating in Dance Marathon as an undergraduate.

“You directly see all the benefits to the kids,” said Melanson of the event.

The team’s goal is to raise $5,000 this year and it has already raised nearly $1,000 in donations without holding any major fundraisers, White said.

“It’s just a great event that advocates for children, health care and our hospital,” he said.

To donate to the UF COM team, go to the www.floridadm.org website and search for “Travus White” or “College of Medicine Team.”