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Dance Marathon: Running for cancer

BY MEAGHAN ROHAN | FEBRUARY 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Dance Marathon’s “Big Event” this weekend will be a marathon effort for participants. But for some, it will be the second marathon they’ve participated in to raise money this year.

Nearly 175 students ran the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11, 2009, to benefit the UI’s Dance Marathon.

Dance Marathon officials haven’t calculated the total amount raised from the effort yet. Sarah Rinehart, a UI senior and the chairwoman of Dance Marathon the Marathon, said final numbers won’t be revealed until the “Big Event” because the 173 participants can continue to raise money up until that day.

This was the second year that a UI group participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The first year, 81 participants raised $85,000.

Participants — ranging from students to alumni to community members — each had to raise $750 total, and around 255 signed up for the marathon. But because of injuries and other circumstances, approximately 75 didn’t run. Still, organizers saw a 200 percent increase over the previous year, likely spurred by the original participants recruiting others to join them.

Rinehart said organizers would continue to try to increase participation for upcoming years.

“It was awesome to see so many people want to do it for Dance Marathon,” said UI senior Stephanie DiGiorgio, recruitment chairwoman for Dance Marathon the Marathon.

And last October, people in Chicago took notice.

When part of the group ran by a big radio station, the DJs commented about the size of the UI Dance Marathon group, DiGiorgio said. And the group that gathered by the starting line was visibly larger.

The Chicago Marathon promoted the group from a “participating charity” to a “partner charity” because of its size.

To prepare for the marathon, the participants organized group runs, which were held every Wednesday and Sunday beginning in March. Throughout the week, runners would either train on their own or in small groups, said UI senior Sarah Stolz.

Around half of the students ran in high school, and the other half had no experience, she said.

Though the group runs weren’t mandatory, she said, they were a good way for runners to meet each other.

“We really pushed the group runs because it was motivating to run together,” DiGiorgio said.

UI sophomore Kate Callahan said the run was easier than she thought it would be. She was a runner in high school and trained for the event with other participants.

Callahan said she was worried about raising the $750, but activities such as canning and sending out letters helped her achieve the goal easily.

Stolz said the marathon was one of the most challenging and rewarding things she’s done, and she attributed her success to Dance Marathon.

“I’m honestly not sure if I would have been able to do it if it wasn’t for the Dance Marathon kids,” she said. “I knew that the struggle I had to face for a few hours was nothing compared to what they go through.”


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