Dance Marathon: That ‘can’-do air


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It’s another frigid night in Iowa City, and while many may retreat to the comfort of their dorm rooms or homes, Dance Marathon canners are braving the elements to raise money.

And though they try to keep their spirits high, some acknowledge it can become discouraging.

Responses to their typical question to passersby — “Would you like to donate to help kids with cancer?” — can bring responses such as, “Oh, I don’t know how.”

Canning is one method dancers employ to raise money, which will fund various projects at the UI Children’s Hospital to help pediatric cancer patients.

In order to be able to attend the “Big Event,” the 24-hour Dance Marathon, each individual dancer must raise at least $425.

“It’s good to see people come back [from canning] and meet their goals,” said Mandi Strzalka, a UI senior and canning co-chairwoman.

Many UI students and local community members might be familiar with canning, having spotted the dancers downtown in their fluorescent green shirts asking for donations.

And though canning downtown is popular, dancers also go to surrounding neighborhoods to solicit door-to-door or at sporting events around campus, especially football and basketball games.

Dancers also can in nearby towns Coralville or North Liberty.

“Canning is a fun and easy way to raise money,” said Seth Jackson, a UI senior and morale captain. “Sometimes it’s difficult when people aren’t pleasant, but you just have to kill them with kindness.”

Typically, approximately 300 to 400 people will become involved with canning, said Sarah Maiers, a UI senior and canning co-chairwoman.

But the amount of money raised while out canning can be “hit and miss,” Jackson said.

“Sometimes it’s $50, sometimes $150,” he said.

And what some dancers said is remarkable about canning, specifically in local neighborhoods, are the responses from those who choose to donate. The majority of people will at least give a few dollars, and others respond with large checks or are overcome with emotion. Jackson noted canners once received a check for $300.

“Everyone knows what [Dance Marathon] is about; it’s neat how everyone supports this program,” said Caitlin Cook, a UI freshman and first-time dancer.

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