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Meet the Marathon Team

The Marathon Team is making their mark! They work hard to make our Marathon a fun and memorable event for both dancers and miracle families. Find out more about the individual members of the team below!


Alexa Hirschfield, Marathon Director

Explain your position in layman's terms.

As Marathon Director, I am responsible for overseeing our Family Relations, Operations, Hospitality and Marathon Events team. As I help my team to coordinate, brainstorm and plan throughout the year for various events, the Marathon event in the Spring is also a huge component of my job. I am responsible for creating the timeline of our 40-hour event down to the minute. From opening ceremonies, to staging, to the logistics of who is speaking or performing at what time, I make sure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently.

What is your favorite Dance Marathon memory?

My favorite DM memory to date would have to be the total reveal from our 2017 Marathon. Before becoming Marathon Director this year, I worked as both a Captain and a Coordinator for our Family Relations team. Having spent a significant amount of time with these kids and their families, the bonds that have formed have been some of my most cherished relationships in my college career. This past year during total reveal, I had the privilege to sit on the stage with the miracle kids as our 2017 Executive Board held up the $1.83 million dollar total. When those numbers were lifted into the air, I looked next to me to see a huge smile across Powie Patterson’s face, one of our miracle kids. I then looked down to see Kristin Patterson, her mother, standing at the edge of the stage. Kristin looked at me with tears in her eyes and I think in that moment, I truly witnessed a life change.

What tips would you offer new dancers who are trying to make the most of their DM experience?

My tip would be to participate in everything we have to offer! Also, take the opportunity to make a new friend! I was able to bond with the women in my organization, but also made so many friends through the Dance Marathon internal team as well. Another tip would be to LEARN THE LINE DANCE. It's a lot harder to catch up if you don't learn it in the beginning and it ends up being a ton of fun to do with your friends especially during those hours where you're completely delusional.

If you could plan one Marathon event (i.e. theme hour, special performance) regardless of budget what would it be and why?

I would definitely have Beyoncé perform! Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan. She’s also super into dancing too so maybe she could add some moves to our line dance!


Casey Calhoun, Hospitality Chair

Explain your position in layman's terms.

I handle everyone's favorite thing: food. Whether it's feeding all of our amazing dancers at the Marathon, setting up share-it nights with local businesses, or organizing donations for various events throughout the year - I'm the food gal!

What is your favorite Dance Marathon memory?

My favorite DM memory would have to be at last year's Marathon when I worked as an External Events Captain. I helped tape up all the milestone balloons to the wall. It was amazing seeing how much work fundraisers were still putting in at the Marathon and the excitement in the dancers’ eyes as they realized all they were accomplishing for such a great cause.

If you could have any restaurant cater during DM, which would it be and why?

If I could have any restaurant cater during DM it would have to be 4Rivers because it's like having a quality, home cooked meal!


Morgaan Jessell, Operations Chair

Explain your position in layman's terms

As Operations Chair, I am responsible for all of the logistical, behind the scenes details that help the Marathon run smoothly and safely. My team and I work with different companies to acquire equipment such as the main stage, lights, security, etc. The best part of this team is that we get to be a support system to all of the other positions. Anything other team members want accomplished or any vision they have - my team and I have the privilege of helping them bring it to fruition.

What is your favorite Dance Marathon memory?

I have so many amazing DM memories, but a particularly funny one that always comes to mind when I think of this job is last year during the Marathon, one of the giant wall decorations ripped and basically came down. Everyone over the headset was calling for Operations to fix it so the coordinators all ran over to see what we could do. If you were watching it, we must have looked crazy. We had used the Scissor Lift to put us up something like 25 feet in the air and were leaning over the edge with brooms to hold it up while some us just put as much duct tape on this thing as possible. The best part was that this was during something that required dimming all the lights, so we we were also in the dark trying to salvage this wall. Other members of CORE were turning on their phone's flashlights to help us and it was just so funny because that's what Operations is all about - being flexible and solving any problems that occur during the Marathon.

What can dancers do to ensure they have a fun and safe time at the Marathon?

Respect the policies and procedures we've put in place to ensure that your time at the Marathon is most enjoyable. Remember to take care of yourself and utilize the things we've gotten - including but not limited to: water stations, hand sanitizer dispensers, FSU's Medical Response Unit - to make sure you're feeling great throughout your entire 20 hour shift. Most importantly, keep in mind that the Marathon itself is a production with over a year of preparation and we just need you to show up with a positive attitude and a desire to make a difference in the lives of our Miracle Children and beneficiaries!


Samantha Burk, Family Relations Chair

Explain your position in layman's terms.

On the Family Relations Team, we work with anything and everything relating to the families and the College of Medicine Pediatric Outreach Programs. We plan events for the families and ensure that they feel included all year leading up to the Marathon (and of course, at the Marathon itself). We also maintain relationships with our College of Medicine beneficiaries and work on raising awareness among the Dance Marathon at FSU members.

What is your favorite Dance Marathon memory?

Last year, I had the privilege of working with the High School Programs Team as a Coordinator. I worked with Chiles High School all year long, helping them plan their Marathon. It was such an awesome experience watching these high schoolers not only grow as leaders on their campus, but also watching their passion grow throughout the year as well. At their Marathon, when it came time for the total reveal it was such a mix of emotions when they held up the final reveal numbers: $21,456.45. It was an incredible “proud mom” moment. It was to amazing to see the culmination of their hard work and watching them realize that they were capable of making so many miracles.

What opportunities will dancers and fundraisers have to get to know the miracle families before the Marathon?

This year, one of our main goals is ensuring that the dancers and fundraisers really get to know the families better prior to the Marathon. Therefore, we are going to hold the Delegates and Family Relations Captains responsible for facilitating more frequent communication with the families. Along with more communication, the Delegates and Family Captains will also work together to plan more events for the families with the organizations. It could be as simple as dinner at the chapter’s house or a picnic in the park! We will allow the members who have been actively fundraising or have recently reached a certain goal to attend such events. This way, it will encourage everyone to be actively fundraising in addition to getting the know the families. Hopefully, by having the families more present throughout the year, it will allow the dancers and fundraisers to engage with the families more frequently prior to the Marathon


Rachel Catan, Marathon Events Chair

Explain your position in layman's terms.

I am the Marathon Events Chair! My team and I are in charge of planning all the fun and amazing events and activities the dancers get to do at the Marathon. Any performance groups you’ve saw or activities you did at past marathons were brought to you by the Marathon Events Team!

What is your favorite Dance Marathon memory?

My favorite DM memory happened at the Marathon last year. As the IT Coordinator it was my job to type the total on the computer so it could be displayed for everyone to see. About an hour or so before total reveal Mark told me that the total reveal number was going to be texted to me so I could then type it out. I was freaking out during closing ceremonies knowing that the number that contained all of our accomplishments from the year was just going to pop up on my phone. When it finally happened I instantly started crying tears of joy! I could not believe that we had raised $1.8 million! I was silently celebrating with myself; I could hardly contain my excitement. It was awesome to be able to have that moment to myself and self reflect on the year and how we all made it to that point!

Looking back on the first year you participated in DM, what advice would you give yourself for making the most out of your Marathon experience?

Looking back to my freshman year as a dancer, I would have told myself to learn the whole line dance when the Morale Team taught it! The line dance takes up a good chunk of the Marathon, so it helps the time go by and it's so fun when you know the dance so you can really get into it. I would have also told myself to take advantage of the miracle milestones. If you're feeling tired these are a great pick-me-ups; you’re going to want to continue fundraising so you can enjoy these awesome perks. One last thing I would have told freshman dancer me was to explore the Marathon! There is so much that goes on so there is no reason to stick to one or two areas - play all the games, do all the activities, cheer on all the performance groups and meet the miracle families!


This team knows the ins and outs of the Marathon like no one else! Interested in getting involved with Hospitality, Operations, Family Relations, or Marathon Events? Captain applications are open right now and available until September 22 on our main website and at the link below. Be sure to apply before the deadline!


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