Header Banner

Miracle Kid Melissa Bruebach ’15 made sure Dance Marathon was part of her wedding-day planning. Still in her bridal gown, she dropped in on the student fundraiser between photos and reception! Bruebach was one of 11 Miracle Kids who boosted the student-org fundraiser to a remarkable $84,570.06 total to benefit children’s hospitals.

Wedding-Day Plans Take in Dance Marathon

For the sixth consecutive year, St. Norbert College Dance Marathon coordinated 13.1 hours of dancing, crafts and activities as part of its annual Miracle Day fundraiser Nov. 10. In line with this year’s theme, “Move Your Feet, Make a Heart Beat,” students, faculty and many more from the college community danced together to raise a total of $84,570.06 for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. 

Making the celebration even more special was a visit from former Dance Marathon member and Miracle Kid, Melissa Bruebach ’15. Bruebach didn’t find the date hard to remember: Nov. 10 was also her wedding day. 

A day of miracles
Tying the knot on the same Saturday as Miracle Day wasn’t something Bruebach and her fiancé-now-husband, Matt Hayden, planned. It ended up with a moment of realization that their wedding festivities coincided with the date. 

“It was honestly meant to be on this day, whether we planned it or not,” Bruebach says. “We originally [planned] to have our wedding in 2019, but spur of the moment changed it to be this year instead. … When we found out it was also Miracle Day, we knew it was meant to be all along, and that we had to stop [by].” 

Bruebach was a member of SNC Dance Marathon and is a Miracle Kid herself, having received treatment at the Children’s Hospital. She’s dealt with a chronic illness all her life and had to postpone her college career for a year to undergo a number of surgeries. She realizes her life could’ve been drastically different if she hadn’t had treatment.  

“Without my hospital, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be in [my] wedding dress. I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the aisle or dance at my wedding,” says Bruebach. “My parents didn’t know if they’d ever see [my wedding]. This is a reminder that miracles can happen.”

Mikaela Wolf ’19, one of three co-presidents of Dance Marathon, reiterated that sentiment, saying that Bruebach’s visit added something extremely unique and touching to the experience. Dancers gathered around to take photos with the couple, and then Bruebach and her husband shared a dance together. 

“Melissa will always be one of our Miracle Kids and we are so thankful for her support of our organization,” says Wolf. “We were so happy that she chose to visit our event on her wedding day, and she is yet another example of why we [dance] for 13.1 hours.”

Making miracles a reality
The Campus Center gym was bustling with energy and excitement throughout the day of the Marathon, and to keep things fresh, each hour of the 13.1-hour event took a different theme, including country hour, throwback hour and Disney hour. Dance Marathon members also performed a morale dance at the start of each hour to help keep spirits up. The five-minute routine was choreographed ahead of time to a mix of different songs and was taught live to encourage everyone to dance. 

“We also invite families who have been treated at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to come to our event and share their stories with us,” says Wolf. “We are lucky to have a number of families that have been with us since the very beginning, and they are so excited to come back year after year.”

Miracle Families have a loved one who’s currently getting treatment or who has previously received treatment at the Children’s Hospital. This year’s visting families ranged from 5-year-olds to SNC alumni to individuals celebrating milestones. Along with Bruebach, they included Mitch Arnold, David Gelb, Grace Gleichner, Simon Ford-Gustafson, Logan Kassner, Renae Metke 18, Amelia Montonati, Joey Rubin 18, Ellie Reed, Kim Smith (Communications & Media Studies), the Wilber family, and Angelina and Sophia Zerillo. The event raised more than $84,000, which will go toward making more Miracle Kids a reality and fund the cost of the hospital’s highest needs. 

Founded in 2013, Dance Marathon continues to be one of the best-supported student organizations on campus. Both President Brian Bruess ’90 and Carol Bruess ’90 have also shown their moves at the Miracle Day marathon events the last two years. 

The group coordinates and fundraises for Miracle Day throughout the year, while also working to educate the campus about the Children’s Hospital and local Miracle Families. They also plan activities like pumpkin painting or bowling for families in order to foster an ongoing relationship. 

“I’ve been fortunate to serve as one of the co-presidents for two years, and it has been an absolute honor,” says Wolf. “However, none of this would be possible without every member of Dance Marathon. Our organization runs so well because we believe that each and every member of our organization has a desire to be there and has a passion for what we are doing.”

In total, St. Norbert’s Dance Marathon branch has raised more than $300,000 so far, and in this time, Dance Marathon has proudly contributed to nine different projects, covering the costs of a Giraffe Isolette, VMAX spirometry system, MRI goggles, a full-body cooling unit, an EKG machine, code-cart upgrades, pulmonary-function testing equipment, bilirubin meters and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) renovations.

A broader effort
The SNC student group is part of the larger Miracle Network Dance Marathon movement, which encompasses more than 300 college and universities around the United States. The movement began at the University of Indiana in memory of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who died from HIV/AIDS. Just this last year, student-run Dance Marathon groups have raised more than $38 million for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Since 1991, the amount raised totals more than $250 million.   

“When we lift up the total [donation] reveal at the end of the night, it is not just a number,” emphasizes Wolf. “We are also lifting up every single family and their children as they walk into Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. They are why we dance and move our feet to make more hearts beat!”

For more information on Dance Marathon visit the SNC org’s website, or follow the group on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about the latest needs of Miracle Kids and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. 

Miracle Day connections
Dance Marathon has celebrated several Miracle Kids over the years who have SNC connections:

  • Both Renae Metke ’18 and Joey Rubin ’18 are new grads. You may recognize Rubin’s name: He was named most successful Child Health Day fundraiser in the nation last fall.
  • Mitch Arnold, a repeat Miracle Kid, is the brother of Tony Arnold ’17.
  • Mike 05 and Ashley 05 Reed are parents of Ellie, who was born with several life-threatening problems, including polycystic kidneys. Ellie went into cardiopulmonary arrest during dialysis and her doctors at the Children’s Hospital performed lifesaving CPR for six minutes. Fortunately, Ellie is now a happy 5-year-old, thanks to a donated kidney from her mom, Ashley.
  • Kim Smith (Communications & Media Studies) joined the Miracle Day crew for the first time this year. Nov. 11, 2018, marks the 31st anniversary of her open-heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital.
  • Angelina and Sophia Zerillo and their parents are big supporters of SNC softball. The past few seasons, they’ve provided their “bat girl” services to the team. 
  • David Gelb and his family have ties to St. Norbert through the CatholicLink program. David’s mom, Katie, is a librarian at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy.


Nov. 16, 2018