By Gabrielle Ryan
For The Diamondback

The first Terp Thon back in person since the start of the pandemic was formatted to a hybrid model, which increased accessibility for the Miracle Kids while keeping them in the spotlight.

The organization raised a total of $274,851.53 for Children’s National Hospital by the end of the 12-hour dance marathon, providing critical life-saving treatments and health care services with the funds raised.

“It is our mission to help these children grow up as healthy as possible,” Jacob Maggid, Terp Thon communications director, stated in a news release.

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The last in-person Terp Thon was March 7, 2020. It was held the weekend before all University of Maryland students were sent home due to the coronavirus.

Saturday’s Terp Thon event was a blend of the last two events, occurring both in the Reckord Armory and on Zoom.

“It’s been highly anticipated to finally be back in person at the Armory. I feel like it still hasn’t even sunk in that we’re really here … We’ve all just been working towards this one day,” hospitality chair Lucy Fulton said.

The event featured a Miracle Kid Talent show, an Inspiration Station to interact with the Miracle Kids on Zoom and a Power Hour with guest DJ Mason, a Miracle Kid.

The hybrid model “opened up a whole new world” for the Terp Thon planning team and is here to stay, said Maggid, a senior marketing and finance major.

Communication through Zoom with Miracle Kids, as well as Children’s National Hospital contacts, ensured a safe environment to connect planning team members, participants, global supporters, the Miracle Kids and their families.

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Students in the Terp Thon planning team video chatted with two Miracle Kids, Ryan and Melody, said Amanda Stone, public relations chair and junior communication major. They got to know their experience with Children’s National Hospital and planned their dance marathon experience, said Fulton, a junior early childhood and early childhood special education major.

“We also want to highlight the fact that they have so much more than just surgeries and treatment and their medical story. They’re kids just like we were and we get to grow up with them,” said Stone.

Along with student performances and virtual engagement activities, college students and planning teams were able to pair up with a Miracle Kid to create a welcoming environment.

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“They have a personal connection right from the moment they either enter the Armory in past years or the second they join the Zoom,” Maggid said. “We are always going to be there for them.”

A special part of the day was hearing from the families and their experience with Children’s National Hospital, Fulton said.

“It’s obviously unfortunate that they have to be treated, but it’s one of the best parts, getting to hear from the people that we’re doing this all for,” Fulton said.

Maggid, Stone, Fulton and Lichtman returned to Terp Thon as participants and the planning team who make the event happen — and Miracle Kids return with them.

“They always go above and beyond to just be there. I think what’s something that’s amazing is year after year they come back, share their stories, and we just love watching them grow up,” Maggid said. “They’ve really shaped it for us.”