Westside High hopes to crush Dance Marathon fundraising goal two years straight

Students hope the community can help them support families at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
Westside's Dance Marathon team is raising money for Children's Hospital and Medical Center.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:25 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For their second year hosting Dance Marathon fundraisers, students at Westside High School are hoping to crush their fundraising goals the same way they did in 2022.

“It’s kind of shocking that like, teenagers can make such a big difference, I feel like a lot of people kind of underestimate what a 16-year-old, 17-year-old can do,” says Lizzie Smith, a senior student at Westside High, and a co-president of the Dance Marathon program at the school.

Last year, Westside was the first high school in Nebraska to start a Dance Marathon program. The organization is nationwide and typically involves dancing for long periods to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

At Westside, all the funds raised go to Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

“This year our goal is for nursing stations and nourishment centers in the NICU and the cardiac care unit,” says co-president and senior student Charlotte Murphy.

From January to April, students involved in Dance Marathon plan and host events at school and for the community.

“We hosted a dodgeball tournament, ice cream social, we sold candy grams last year over Valentine’s Day for heart health month, and overall just raising money and trying to get people involved in the organization and learn that like you can make a difference through small donations or getting involved as a participant,” Murphy says.

In 2022, their goal was to reach $10,000. They ended up at $26,697.

“That number was just so shocking, it was so unexpected I think my heart just exploded, I was like this is so cool,” Smith says.

“I cried, I was like this is insane because you see the difference,” Murphy adds.

The school didn’t just crush its fundraising goal - it also earned some national recognition, too. Westside was voted the best new Dance Marathon program in the country and was a top-ranked earner.

“We came in second for most money raised out of all new Dance Marathon programs including at the collegiate level, so we came in second to the University of Wisconsin which is insane ‘cause we beat out other colleges which is so cool as a high school,” Murphy says.

Throughout their months of fundraising, students get to spend time with the kids and families who feel the impact of their hard work.

“It is truly one of the most heartwarming and fulfilling things,” says Smith. “Just seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces who have spent countless hours in the hospital, getting countless pokes, it’s just so cool to see that that doesn’t stop them.”

This year, they hope to expand their impact by beating last year’s fundraising number and surpassing $30,000.

“Whether it a monetary donation or your Presence at an event, we’ll take anything, and at the end of the day the primary goal of Dance Marathon is to build a community, builds a network, and have an impact on those who need it,” Smith adds.

To donate and to see where the m money goes, you can visit the Westside Dance Marathon page.

The school is also selling hoodies, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Westside Dance Marathon, which can be ordered.

The program’s main event, ‘Warriorthon,’ will be held on April 15.

The Dance Marathon video featured in WOWT 6 News’ story was shot by student Evan Kugler with Warrior Television.