'For the Kids,' via the FSU College of Medicine

Interim Dean Alma Littles, M.D., thanks participants at Dance Marathon at FSU.

The tagline “For the Kids” becomes much more when Dance Marathon at Florida State University (DM at FSU) holds closing ceremonies the first Sunday in March. The annual dance-fest raises money for the Children's Miracle Network, which locally supports pediatric outreach programs at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and the FSU College of Medicine.

Shortly before the March 3 reveal that DM at FSU raised more than $1.24 million for the two universities’ pediatric programs, College of Medicine Interim Dean Alma Littles, M.D., told the students gathered at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center how much she and the college’s community partners appreciate their dedication to the mission. That work, and the sacrifices made over the previous 40 hours, "showed your commitment to helping the infants and children who will benefit from your efforts.”

From interacting with the “Miracle Kids” and their families to the exhaustion and exhilaration of the weekend’s activities, it’s always an emotional finale with lots of laughter mixed with tears. But Littles generated raucous applause as she talked about the college’s newest research center, the Institute for Pediatric Rare Diseases, and the $1 million in funding from the Florida Legislature this year to launch it.

“We see an opportunity for synergistic support to enhance research, education and clinical care services to children right here in the Big Bend and beyond,” she said.

“We want to help reduce the number of times physicians have to say, ‘there’s not much more we can do,’ as we heard from the family earlier today. This institute will help the FSU College of Medicine bring home the message that today’s research is tomorrow’s cure!”

Read more about the College of Medicine's newly launched Institute for Pediatric Rare Diseases.

This was the 29th year of DM at FSU. That first year, co-founders Travis Ferguson and Bryan Seaquist and their dance crews raised a little over $19,000.

“Who knew that little event we started would grow into this?” Seaquist said.

These are the area pediatric outreach programs DM at FSU supports, as listed by Dean Littles:

  • “Thank you from the Gadsden County school-based health program for helping them provide pediatric services in the underserved Quincy area, represented by Dr. Myesha Carroll.
  • “Thank you from the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Newborn ICU, represented by Becky Harnden.
  • “Thank you from Big Bend Hospice and its Camp Woe-Be-Gone grief camps for kids, represented by Dena Strickland.
  • “Thank you from Bond Community Health Center for helping them provide health care to kids who wouldn’t get it otherwise, represented by Dr. Temple Robinson.
  • “Thank you from the Young Parents Project and Early Head Start Program for health and safety supplies, represented by Colleen Williams.
  • “Thank you from the National Institute for Infant & Child Medical Music Therapy for helping them acquire a full-time music therapist, represented by Hannah Sellers.
  • “And thank you from our clinicians, staff and students at FSU PrimaryHealth for helping them provide pediatric services to our practice on Roberts Avenue, serving children who live and go to school in what has been a health-care desert for decades right here in Tallahassee.

“Please accept our heartfelt round of applause … for all you do for the kids!” Littles said. “Thank you so much!"

-- Contact Audrey Post at audrey.post@med.fsu.edu.

Photo captions:

Spotlight photo on Home page: Leaders of Dance Marathon at FSU, the largest student-led organization on campus, reveal the 2024 fund-raising total of $1,240,058.81. Of that, $358, 046.53 was raised by area middle and high schools in the Community Marathon.

Photo at top right: Alma Littles, M.D., interim dean of the FSU College of Medicine, thanks 2024 participants in Dance Marathon at FSU for their hard work and dedication, sharing with them a little about the pediatric outreach programs in the Big Bend they help support. Joining her on the stage are, from left, Lindsay Miller, alumni relations and event manager for the College of Medicine; Becky Harnden, development officer with the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation; and Dena Strickland, president of the Big Bend Hospice Foundation.

Photos by Colin Hackley for the FSU College of Medicine.