Dance Marathon: Seeing more equipment requests


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Comfort capes — cloth capes for cancer patients to play in, sibling grief kits, and music therapy are just three projects on the list of 17 funded by Dance Marathon for 2009. These items emotionally support children, the original goal of Dance Marathon.

“Many students felt and saw that pediatric cancer patients couldn’t lobby for themselves,” said Mark Baccei, an assistant director of the UI Office of Student Life and the Dance Marathon adviser.

But because of the economic downturn in the last two years, some funds have also gone toward equipment costs for the UI Children’s Hospital.

Funds for needs such items as operating-room lamps and height-measuring devices now appear on the list with massage therapy, comfort kits, laptops, and coping tools for kids.

“It’s just something different from things we did in the past,” said Megan Jones, the Dance Marathon hospital director. “But because it’s something that would directly affect some of our kids, we thought it was important to help out.”

Chris Klitgaard, a Dance Marathon alumni representative and allocations board member, said he would be hesitant to make a blanket statement about the budget crisis causing the requests, but Dance Marathon could certainly help out.

“Maybe there have been a few more requests in past years, but not out of line,” he said.

Klitgaard said an example would be if the hospital could only afford one machine because of budget cuts, officials may ask Dance Marathon to purchase the second one.

The diversity of the voting allocation committee — which decides where to spend Dance Marathon money — has been a valuable asset as the funding proposals have shifted slightly, Baccei said.

As UIHC officials ask the group to cover more equipment costs, Baccei said, their input on what they need is vital.

“The diversity of the group is beneficial to have those conversations and know what’s going on with the Children’s Hospital and how we can help,” he said, but noted the group needs to continue to ask how each funding request will aid Dance Marathon families. “So it’s a very free dialogue.”

If a request for equipment will have a positive effect on families and children, it fits into Dance Marathon’s mission, Baccei said. In the fall of 2009, Dance Marathon allocated $60,000 — the largest request awarded — to the on-going Dance Marathon Hospital Bill Program, which helps families pay medical bills.

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