The Carolina For The Kids (CFTK) 24 Hour Dance Marathon is an annual event hosted by the CFTK Foundation at UNC. During this event, anyone participating is PROHIBITED from sitting down for 24 hours. The money raised during the marathon is used to help children and their families in the UNC hospital by providing meals, transportation, fun events for the kids, and more! It is a great cause, and participating in this dance is close to the top of the UNC student bucket list. CFTK Dance Marathon has many different roles. You can be a morale captain, dancer, motivator, volunteer, or part of the committee that plans the event. This year was my first year participating, and I chose to be a motivator. If you haven't participated in this event yet, I highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life!

If it's your first time participating, start out as a Motivator.

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As a motivator, your job is to keep the dancers dancing and on their feet. You only have to be at the marathon for six hours shifts, not the whole 24 hours.  This is a great way to dip your toe in the water and get a feel for how the dance is going to be, because you are able to know what you are getting into before you get into it for 24 hours! I would suggest doing either the first or the last of the four shifts because you won't have to wake up at odd hours of the night/morning, and the party is kind of dead in between those shifts.

Plan to participate with a friend.

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Dancing for 24 is fun, but more fun if you have someone to spend those 24 hours with! When I went to the dance, I knew many people who were going, and just thought I would see them there. I was wrong, because there are so many people there, it was so hard to find them! Until I made a new friend, I was pretty lonely. Find a buddy, and make plans to spend 24 hours together.

Bring multiple pairs of shoes!

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I don't care if they are the comfiest shoes in the world, that comfort will go away after 4 hours! Even just standing for 6 hours was rough. The key to avoiding aching feet is changing out your shoes every few hours. There will be rooms to put your stuff in, and I suggest placing extra shoes in there (it also wouldn't hurt to throw a few extra pairs of socks in there). My suggestion is: bring a pair of Nikes, bedroom slippers, and crocs/athletic sandals. Your feet will thank you!

Make sure your phone is fully charged or purchase a portable charger (and make sure that is fully charged).

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While you're at the dance, you may want to take pictures/videos, add your new friends on Facebook, or watch cat videos when you've got nothing to do. In order to do that, you'll need to charge your phone. Sure, there are plenty of places for you to plug in, but then you'll either have to leave your phone unattended in a building with 1,000+ people, or stand next to it until it's fully charged and miss the festivities! Charge your phone before hand, or bring a portable charger so you can keep the fun rolling!

Try to do your homework before the event!

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While CFTK has "study rooms" for participants at the bottom floor of Fetzer Gym for students to do homework and study, but doing homework does not excuse you from standing. Even if you are doing work or studying, you still have to remain standing, and table spaces are limited. Also, if you're doing work, you'll miss out on the events happening at the dance. Sure you're only gone for a few hours, but a lot can happen during those few hours! My roommate missed Henna, seconds for food, and her favorite A Capella group's performance because she was writing an essay. Point is, try to get as much homework done as possible before partying for 24 hours.

Get caffeinated, but don't overdo it!

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Let me remind you that if you participate, you will be at this event for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours! There will come a time where all you can think about is sleep, and lying down for a little cat nap. Luckily, the wonderful people at CFTK will provide you with caffeine rich drinks like Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and Red Bull. However, be mindful of the amount of caffeine you put into your body, since caffeine is a drug. The half life of caffeine is roughly 3-5 hours, meaning that it takes that long for you body to get rid of half of the amount of caffeine you consume, so you really only need to have a caffeinated beverage every 4-6 hours. Another thing to keep in mind is that those drinks also have a ton of sugar in them! So, if you're trying to watch your sugar intake, brew yourself some coffee or black tea before the dance, and bring it with you in a thermos.  

Stock up on painkillers!

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With all of the bright lights, loud music, sugar, and dancing you may develop a headache or your body might start to get sore. To avoid this from bothering you for the rest of the night, pick up a bottle of your favorite pain medication (my personal favorite is Aleve), but do be mindful of the recommended dosage, and don't over do it!

The fanny pack is back!

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I brought my own "athletic belt" (aka really slim fanny pack) to the dance, and I saw so many other people wearing their own fanny packs! Fanny packs are basically like wearing a tiny backpack around your hip, and are great for storing the essentials! Use this fanny pack to store things like snacks, pain medication, an inhaler/your daily medications, band aids, keys, and your phone. It's not embarrassing if everyone else is wearing one!

Prepare your bedroom for your arrival.

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After the 6-24 hours that you are at the dance, all you're going to want to do is fall into your bed and sleep forever, or maybe you are planning on watching Netflix and ordering a pizza. Point is, you have comfy and relaxing things you want to do when your time at the dance has come to an end, so get your room prepped before heading to the dance, so you won't have to do more work and put in more effort when you get back to your room. Don't make your bed so it's ready for you to sleep in, or if your bed is lofted, make yourself a soft spot on the floor so you can avoid having to use your feet and climb (or do climb, your choice). If you're like me and made plans with Netflix and fried food, set up your Netflix viewing area and order your food to be delivered around the time you expect to get back to your room. 

Don't sit down, unless you plan on staying down!

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The first thing you want to do after dragging yourself back to your room is to just fall on the floor and never get up. Well, that's probably because it'll hurt like hell to get back up. Your muscles are going to be so sore and tense after the dance, that once you finally sit down and relax, it'll be much harder and much more painful to get up. A dancer, who I just met an hour before writing this paragraph, told me that when she got back to her room, she immediately sat down. However, it hurt a lot for her to get back up to go take a shower. Before you can finally sit down and relax, make sure you take care of anything else you have to do (ie shower, change clothes, brush your teeth). 

Lastly...

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The CFTK 24 Hour Dance Marathon is a once in a lifetime experience (or a four times in your life experience), so I highly encourage all of you to be part of it at least once! You will not regret it (after you spend the first few hours of standing and instantly regretting it)!

Go Heels, and do it for the kids!

Lead Image: CFTK Facebook Page