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Dance Marathon still hard at it

BY ASHLEY HAUGO | FEBRUARY 23, 2009 7:30 AM

With only 347 days until Dance Marathon’s Big Dance returns to the UI campus, there is little time for organizers to be idle.

“Dance Marathon is a 12-month program. The activities don’t stop after the February event,” said Mark Baccei, an assistant director of the UI Office of Student Life and the Dance Marathon adviser.

Indeed, less than a week after the Feb. 6-7 dance, executive-council applications for the next Dance Marathon began piling into the office.

On Feb. 13, Colette Forcier, a UI junior from La Grange, Ill., was one of the five contenders who submitted applications to become executive director.

Three days later, she learned she would run the show next year.

“I was so excited. I cried, and then I screamed, and then I was laughing,” she recalled. “All the emotions you go through when you’re at the event — it all just comes rushing out when you apply for something like this.”



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And Forcier hopes a similar enthusiasm will spread campuswide when spring recruitment kicks off in April.

“It’s kind of good to get back into it, because you’re still on that elevated ‘I love Dance Marathon’ feeling,” she said about the April and May efforts to get students to register.

Even though spring recruitment is only a 3-year-old addition to the event, former Dance Marathon Executive Director Katie Guckert sees it as a key process to the organization.

“It’s very important, because we can get a lot of people signed up before they head home for the summer,” she said. “I don’t know why we never thought of it earlier.”

This spring drive usually draws around 400 to 500 people to pledge, most of whom are veterans and still riding on the excitement of the recent dance, Guckert said.

While the events for the spring recruitment will not be planned until the new 250-person leadership team is fully assembled, one program is underway: Dance Marathon the Marathon. For this, participants raise $750 for the organization to compete in the Chicago Marathon in October.

“We now have a good 100- or 150-plus showing interest,” said Sarah Rinehart, the chairwoman of Dance Marathon the Marathon. The UI junior was appointed to the position in early December.
Participants in the marathon will go through an 18-week training program, which begins in early June and culminates on Oct. 11 with the race. But for those who want a head start in training, they can start their preparation in April.

Last year, Dance Marathon’s inaugural run in the renowned Chicago event garnered around $85,000, with 81 runners toeing the starting line, Rinehart said.

However, with increased organization and the addition of three coordinators to run the program, she said, she hopes this year will be bigger and better. She would like to get 150 runners to compete.

While planning is off to a running start for the next dance, organizers are confident Dance Marathon will continue to make strides.

“I have a comforting feeling that things can only get better,” Guckert said. “I think I am leaving [Dance Marathon] in a good place.”


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