Wellness in Action: An Interview with AUDM Executive President Sydney Nicholas
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, wellness is “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.”
But what does wellness in action look like? One organization is promoting health and wellness beyond Auburn’s borders: Auburn University Dance Marathon. The staff members of AUDM fight for the health and wellbeing of children who suffer daily battles because of their illnesses and handicaps. AUDM is a party with a purpose!
The program is a yearlong fundraising push for Children’s Miracle Network, which supports our local Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. AUDM is a newer organization on Auburn’s campus, only six years old, and they have already raised over $1,500,000 for the kids.
This success placed AUDM as the youngest Dance Marathon organization in the Southeast to raise $1 million.
I sat down with AUDM’s 2016-2017 Executive President Sydney Nicholas to find out more about the miracles happening on Auburn’s campus.
Be Well: How has DM impacted the Auburn campus?
Sydney Nicholas: “I think Dance Marathon has really changed how we view philanthropy as Auburn students. You can dance and really make a difference by physically standing for the kids for the 14 hours that our Main Event lasts, because it makes a statement. The party vibe combined with the heart of the organization is really something special!”
BW: How are you promoting wellness for the kids?
SN: “When kids come to our Main Event or when we visit them in the hospital (we volunteer weekly in the Children’s Hospital playroom), we take their minds off of whatever is going on in their lives, even for just a moment. I think that contributes to their wellness and state of mind. We also create a support system for the families when they need help with small tasks, which can give them peace of mind.”
BW: How does AUDM support the hospital?
SN: “Currently all of AUDM’s fundraising is financing the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unity (NICU) at Columbus Regional Health. AUDM has pledged $2 million over the next five years to be the naming donor for the NICU. In addition, we volunteer countless playroom hours and put on events at the hospital throughout the year!”
BW: What kind of relationships do you have with the hospital and the children?
SN: “I have a personal relationship with most of our miracle kids! I’ve gone to more dance recitals and infusion treatments with them than I can count. It’s definitely my favorite part of being involved with AUDM. It’s been so incredible to watch them grow up over the last 3 years.”
BW: What kind of success have you found in the members? In the organization?
SN: “Not only do I enjoy getting to watch people get really excited about our cause, but it was incredible to see people truly grow into their leadership roles. Whether it was a dancer getting excited to raise $100 and bang the gong at our event or watching a director crush a goal they set for themselves within the organization, it was awesome to see people striving to reach their full potential.”
BW: What is your vision for a healthier Auburn?
SN: “In my vision for a healthy Auburn, we would strive to be healthy in all areas of our lives and to make our community a healthier place! I think AUDM contributes to that vision by encouraging people to give to a cause that helps more of the children in our community have happier, healthier childhoods.”
BW: What will you miss most about this organization?
SN: “Aside from the families, I think the thing I will miss most will be working with our incredible staff. It’s so inspiring to work day in and day out with 160 students who give their free time and resources to serve their communities. I’m going to miss being in an environment that constantly challenges me to be a better Auburn woman.”
BW: Where do you see this organization heading?
SN: “I see this organization continuing to inspire our campus and our community with their tireless efforts! I hope to see us grow not only in the dollar amounts that we raise, but also with the number of children that we are able to support with our time!”
BW: How can someone get involved in AUDM?
SN: “For students wanting to get involved with AUDM 2018, registration opens in Fall 2017! For more information on staff applications and dancer registration visit audancemarathon.com”
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Jack P.