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Video: KNIGHT-THON. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future. CORRECTION: The sorority mentioned is Alpha Epsilon Phi, not Alpha Epsilon Pi. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future

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Knight-Thon 2015 surpassed its goal of raising $500,000 for the Greater Orlando Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, having earned $688,049.19 by the end of the 20-hour dance marathon.

But how did the Knights do it?

This year's Knight-Thon theme was "Dare to Make a Difference," and students were encouraged to dare their friends participating in Knight-Thon to do ridiculous, brave and sometimes embarrassing dares throughout the year to raise as much money as possible.

Alexandra Diaz, Morale Team member and sophomore event management major, said that if she met her goal of $700, she would chop off her long locks and donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which partners with the American Cancer Society to provide real-hair wigs for women cancer patients of all ages for free.

Diaz surpassed her goal, raising $2,096, and therefore donated 12 inches of her hair.

"I choose my hair because everyone knows it means a lot to me, and it's part of who I am," Diaz said. "This just shows how dedicated I am to the cause and that it's not just something that I'm asking money for, that it actually means something to me, that I'm willing to sacrifice something."

Danielle Mathis, Central Florida Wesley team captain and sophomore hospitality management major, accepted countless dares since February when she began fundraising.

Her dares started when a friend challenged her to raise $100 in one week. She advertised on Facebook that if her family and friends helped her raise the money, she would wear her large black and gold sombrero whenever she was on campus for a week. If more than $100 was raised, she would add in a mustache.

"I spent the week — it was February 10 to 18 — with me just wearing the sombrero and mustache to class and around campus," Mathis said.

She said that people stared a lot, but she embraced the looks she was given because it was bringing attention to the kids.

After that, she said that if people donated $5 or more, she would do the dare of their choice. Those dares included several music videos, wearing a USF shirt around school until she raised $50, dancing to the Cotton-eyed Joe outside the Student Union, rapping to the Naked Mole Rap and dressing up as her own superhero at Walt Disney World.

One dance dare she filmed in the Student Union attracted a large crowd, and people started dancing along with her. The DJ at the time in the Union even started to play popular dance songs, such the Wobble and the Cha-Cha Slide, as about 30 people danced in the Atrium.

Her personal total was $1,433, and her team raised $5,639.

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Kyle Gheen, Morale Team member and senior construction engineering major, showed his support for Knight-Thon by setting a dare to raise $1,200. If this goal was met, he said he would have "FTK" shaved into the back of his head. If more than $1,500 was raised, then "FTK" designs would also go into his beard.

Gheen raised $1,620 and sported "FTK" in his hair during the Knight-Thon event.

Rachel Altfield, Morale Team member and sophomore hospitality management major, was dared to raise $1,500 by her birthday on March 17. If the dare was completed, which it was, she was to wear a Onesie to Knight Library for happy hour, which she said was an experience like no other.

Some of the Miracle children joined in on the dares as well. Twelve-year-old Sam received two life-saving surgeries within the first 24 hours of his life: his back, which was open at birth, had to be closed, and a shunt was placed in his brain to remove the excess fluid.

Sam dared the Knight-Thon participants to raise $27,000 in two hours because of the 27 surgeries he's had throughout his life.

"Simply stated, we stand for the kids who can't," the Knight-Thon website states.

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Paige Wilson is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @paigeshortstackor email her at PaigeW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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