Dancing to Make a Difference | Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan

by Lauren Sofen, PT,  pediatric physical therapist, Beaumont Children’s Hospital

DMUM

Showcasing my dance moves at     DMUM 2013.

Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan (DMUM) is the largest student organization on campus, raising funds and awareness for pediatric rehabilitation.

Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan improves the quality of life for children with disabilities by:

  • developing relationships between college students and participating families
  • raising funds in a creative and energetic manner to support pediatric rehabilitation programs
  • educating the campus and community about our cause

DMUM has been a staple funding source to the Center for Children’s Rehabilitation at Beaumont Children’s Hospital for the past 16 years and is in fact one of the reasons I work at Beaumont today. I joined the Beaumont team in September as a pediatric physical therapist, after a decade away from metro Detroit. During my time away I worked in some of the leading hospitals in the world, in a variety of settings including completing a pediatric residency in Philadelphia, but there was always something missing…

I was working with top physicians, the latest technology and an international population of patients, but I was missing the aspect of my job that got me passionate about PT in the first place – there were no programs to improve kids’ skills and well-being outside of the clinic atmosphere. DMUM provides funding for equipment and a wide variety of special therapeutic programs that go on throughout the year at a significantly discounted rate for families. This discounted rate is most notable because these programs are supplementary and not covered by insurance.

As a college student at the University of Michigan, still figuring out my career path and deciding what kind of person I wanted to be, DMUM quickly became my home, my energy source (and energy outlet, if you go to the marathon you’ll see why) and my family on campus. Dance Marathon cultivated my passion for pediatrics and helped solidify my path to becoming a physical therapist. I enjoyed volunteering and making a difference in these families’ lives, that I vowed to continue in any capacity I could.

Enter PT degree, move to Michigan, and to my good luck, an opening for a job at Beaumont! Not only have I been able to re-engage myself with DMUM and my alma mater, but I get to call it work! This is my way of giving back to the community that was so pivotal in my relatively short lifetime. I have even had the pleasure of treating an old DMUM family, who I met as a very young child and now get to see as a teenager! In addition to giving me wonderful “extra-curricular” activities to participate in outside the PT gym, DMUM has allowed me to trial some very innovative treatments inside the clinic. For example, the WalkAide is a functional electrical stimulation device worn on the lower leg to stimulate lost or malfunctioning muscles needed to elevate toes for walking (often times in place of bulky or non-aestetically pleasing brace); it is safe to say we would not have this equipment to use with our patients without DMUM’s help.

Dance Marathon’s 30-hour marathon is February 15, 2014 at 10 a.m. through February 16, 2014 at 4 p.m. in the Indoor Track and Field Building on University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor Campus. All visitors are welcome… any time of day or night!

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