MU Miracle, a philanthropic organization on Mercer University’s campus, raised more than $84,000 for the Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital through various community service efforts throughout the school year. The grand total of $84,355.67 was a record amount for the organization over its six years of existence at the University.
MU Miracle is a part of Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a conglomerate of institutions that work alongside the Children’s Miracle Network to partner with local children’s hospitals to help provide the best care for kids.
Meredith Keating White, assistant director of student involvement, has undertaken the responsibility of being the adviser for MU Miracle due to her previous involvement with Miracle Network Dance Marathon as an undergraduate
Participating schools host an up-to-26-hour event, formally called a dance marathon, to interact with patient families, participate in games and choreographed dance breaks, and, most importantly, reveal the fundraising total raised by the group throughout the year.
Generally, Mercer’s version of the dance marathon, known as “Bearthon,” lasts around eight hours. This particular year, the organization hosted a two-day event on Black Field with a celebratory tailgate available to the public on March 20, followed by the official five-hour dance marathon event for those who registered on March 21.
“You’re not dancing the whole time, but you are up on your feet to show reverence, respect and be in solidarity with our Miracle Kids,” Keating White said. “It’s a community effort to stay engaged.”
Bearthon also collaborated with Mercer Athletics for the first time this year to sponsor the tailgate, which allowed the organization to receive a check for more than $16,000 from Ingles, a sponsor of Mercer Athletics, and more.
“When we talked to our athletics staff, they were really into helping us,” Keating White said. “We were really happy with the exposure, and we got great feedback on Bearthon being outside rather than being in Penfield Hall.”
One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the MU Miracle Bearthon initiative go directly to the Atrium Health Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. Money the organization has raised has already been used within the hospital for various items that need updating, replacement or refurbishing.
“Our contact for Navicent Health Foundation said the hospital has approved a request to update several items in the children’s hospital, including the purchase of new cribettes,” Keating White said. “The cribettes have been in use for several years, and they will provide a safe and comfortable environment for pediatric patients.”
This year’s grand total was raised through individual student peer-to-peer fundraising, holding events like fraternity and sorority kickball tournaments, and accepting sponsorships from local businesses.
“We do events throughout the year that may not always raise a big chunk of money but help us jump forward. The bulk of our money is raised from individual students fundraising before and at Bearthon,” said Keating White.
“This year, the goal was to raise $81,000 because the most we’d ever raised was over $80,000 in spring 2019. Our strategy next year is to get even better and deeper involvement from the community, and our goal is for it to be impossible as a student at Mercer to not know about MU Miracle.”
In spite of COVID-19 restrictions, the organization was able to continue to make a profound impact on the local Macon community by investing in the wellbeing and comfort of hospital patients through virtual game nights and intentional encouragement.
“The game nights were a super success this year, and when the restrictions start lessening, I think our participation and engagement with families is going to get deeper and deeper,” Keating White said. “Also, if the children are going through a big moment in their health, we’ll write letters and make videos to stay connected and make them feel special.”
Keating White believes the Mercer community should be excited about MU Miracle because of the mutual resonating impact from both organization members and hospital patients.
“It can be a life-changing experience for any student who wants to engage,” Keating White said. “Something about hearing children’s stories, and even learning a choreographed dance and being silly, can improve your life in college and hopefully beyond.”