One day while messing around on Facebook during lunch, I noticed that my friend, Kourtney Kellin, had added an acronym to her name on her profile. It read “FTK” in bold letters. Scrunching up my nose I turned to her and asked about its meaning. The fork full of her “delicious” vegan delight froze midway to her mouth as she gaped at me.

Wait, did I say something wrong?

One massive eye roll and a plate of tofu later, she explained that FTK stands for “For the Kids.” It is a term employed to describe the philosophy of Dance Marathon, a massive benefit to fund the causes of the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit that pumps much needed funds into children’s hospitals. The local CMN hospital is our very own Duke Children’s, but there was no student fundraising effort for it, so Kourtney decided to start one.

Kourtney puts up posters to advertise the Dance Marathon.

Kicking Off Duke’s Dance Marathon

The Duke Dance Marathon has been a year-long effort that culminates in a 12-hour fundraising event starting the evening of this Friday, March 23, and goes until the wee hours of Saturday. During the final event, participants dance in shifts, so that people are dancing almost non-stop for the full 12 hours, standing up for the children who are too sick to stand for themselves. Throughout the year, students raised funds and awareness for the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. As a recent Penn State graduate, I am familiar with the efforts of Dance Marathon. At Penn State it’s called THON, and it is quite possibly the biggest event of the year, and the excitement surrounding it rivals that of the football games. It is already ambitious to participate in the marathon, but to build one from scratch is … just wow!

Kourtney has spent most of her free time devoted to organizing events to fortify Duke Dance Marathon. Absorbed with instilling its importance in every local business and student organization, she tirelessly worked toward making the fundraiser a success. And it seems to be paying off — there is a buzz around campus about the event. This heightened awareness encourages more people every day to gear up to dance for the cause. Everyone now seems to know what FTK stands for. And why does Kourtney spend so much of her time organizing and supporting such an impressive event? She looks at me incredulously with wide eyes, as if the answer is self-evident. For the kids, obviously.

Kourtney with miracle child, Alison.

Between her sister, Kaitlyn, her best friend, Elyse, and her little hero, Alison, she has a lot of personal reasons that fuel her enthusiasm for Dance Marathon. Every Miracle Network child she has had the blessing of meeting motivates her even more to make an impact on the lives of these miracle kids. They have experienced troubles and persevered through struggles that she could never even imagine. “Through all the pain, these kids have a hope that is inspiring. It’s hard not to fall in love with the cause and become passionate about making a difference when you meet them,” Kourtney told me. Simply put, the children and their families’ stories, strength, and determination are what Dance Marathon is all about.

It Really is All for the Kids

I would like to stress the fact that every penny raised goes straight to the kids — no gimmicks and no catches. No one is making any money off of this event, because every scent goes toward saving more lives. Kourtney and her team members are still collecting donations online for this great fundraiser.

Participants in the marathon are in for a treat. All of the students I’ve spoken to who have participated in similar events have nothing but good things to say about it. During the Duke Dance Marathon “participants will be entertained by various DJs, comedians, and dance troupes, fed by local sponsors, will do a 7 minute Dance Marathon line dance every hour, hear stories from Duke Children’s Miracle families, have fun during our 2 hour black light party, and stand and stay awake for those who can’t,” Kourtney states excitedly, practically jumping from her seat.

If you are interested in participating in the event, you can find more information on the main event website, the fundraising site, Facebook page, and Twitter. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment for me or you contact the source herself through one of the listed sites, and she will provide you with a wealth of information. Kourtney is a great example of the type of compassionate, driven, and well-rounded students that comprise the MMS class, so don’t forget to show her that Team Fuqua is behind her. FTK all the way!