Might as well dance: UADM goes virtual in annual BAMAthon

Held virtual for the first time ever, The University of Alabama’s Dance Marathon will be presented over Zoom as participants dance for a cause 


CW File

CW / Hannah Saad

After ten years of on-campus fun and fundraising, The University of Alabama Dance Marathon (UADM) will be having their first virtual dance marathon on Feb. 27.

UADM, also known as BAMAthon, is a student organization that raises money for Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, the largest freestanding pediatric hospital in the state that serves children from across the globe. 

The yearlong fundraising culminates in a day of dancing, where participants jive and twirl for those who can’t. While people are dancing, organizers set goals each hour to see how much money individuals can raise for the hospital.     

Usually UADM is held in the Ferguson Student Center’s Ballroom, but due to the pandemic and social distancing restrictions on events, UADM will be held over Zoom this year.

The 12-hour event will feature interactive presentations of all kinds. Sophie Keeler, a junior majoring in finance and the director of assets for UADM, said that part of the excitement with BAMAthon is the “mystery behind the fun we plan for Miracle Makers’ experiences.” 

Miracle Makers are UA students who aren’t on staff but raise money for UADM. They are called Miracle Makers because they aim to make miracles through the money they raise. Although the event is virtual, UADM’s staff is doing the best they can to create a memorable experience over Zoom, members said.

Gracie Avery, vice president of campus engagement for UADM and a senior majoring in public health, said adaptating UADM to a virtual platform was a huge undertaking, but UADM’s executive board is confident these new avenues will hopefully benefit the group in the future. 

Avery said they’ve already hosted a few of their landmark events, such as the Miles for Miracles 5k and $100 Day, on virtual platforms, and they’ve seen success. 

“We have missed holding our in-person events, but I believe the spirit of the organization has still shined through our virtual engagement,” Avery said.

Last year’s UADM team broke records with 1,588 participants. Since UADM is virtual this year, Avery is impressed that more than 1,300 people have already signed up. 

And though this event will be virtual, UADM still has found multiple ways to raise money for it. 

Avery said her favorite way to raise money is to post on her Facebook account, and she sometimes makes personal playlists or tutors her friends for donations. She raised over $600 last year. This year, Avery hopes to finally join the “Comma Club,” a designation awarded to members who raise more than $1,000.

Along with fundraising, dancing is a huge part of UADM. Participants dance to a plethora of upbeat songs for the 12-hour event. 

With a laugh, Avery said she’s “anxiously waiting to see what this year’s line dance looks like.”

Myles Taylor, the color captain on the morale committee for UADM and a sophomore majoring in marketing and advertising, has had a personal connection to Children’s of Alabama. Taylor was treated at that hospital for almost his entire life, so he is passionate about dancing for a cause. 

As a member of UADM’s “hype squad,” Taylor’s goal is to get fellow staff members, miracle children and Miracle Makers engaged and excited for all of UADM’s interactive games and entertainment. 

Along with being on the committee, Taylor also helps fundraise by selling custom-made pin-back buttons for people to wear. Those pins promote UADM in hopes more people will get involved. 

Allie Grubb, assistant director for UADM and a junior majoring in political science, is excited for the event. She said she is passionate about dancing for kids who are unable to. 

“My favorite part about UADM is hanging out with the kids and their families, because you see how joyful they are and how appreciative they are for all we do,” Grubb said. 

Jaden Thomley, a sophomore majoring in public relations, attended UADM last year and “loved it so much.” 

Thomley said she is planning on attending the virtual event this year because she made so many memories last year. Her favorite part was hearing stories about children who overcame their sicknesses.

Thomley said when she went to UADM, the Ferguson Student Center’s Ballroom pulsed with the sound of cheering and stomping, as participants danced under strobing neon lights.

Although the Ferg’s ballroom might be empty this year, the executive board is doing everything they can to make the event “shine through,” as Avery said, over Zoom.

Last year, UADM raised $307,843 for Children’s of Alabama. This year, Avery and the executive board are hoping to exceed that amount.

To join UADM for their event this year, click here. Registration is still open, and anyone can participate.