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‘Big Event’ begins tonight

BY KELLIE PETERSEN | FEBRUARY 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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Tonight, more than 1,600 people will fill the IMU Main Ballroom, prepared for 24 full hours of dancing without the aid of caffeine or sitting down.

The continuous day of dancing, beginning at 7 p.m., is the culmination of the UI Dance Marathon’s yearlong efforts to raise money for pediatric cancer programs at the UI Children’s Hospital.

Dancers raise money throughout the year with a wide variety of activities. Each individual dancer must raise a minimum of $425 to participate in the “Big Event.”

Last year, dancers raised more than $1 million.

Mark Baccei, an assistant director of the Office of Student Life and adviser to Dance Marathon, said many of the donations roll in the week leading up to event.

But dancers are not the only ones who raise money. Spirit Dancers raise a minimum of $100 to dance for four hours during the event. Money from mini-Dance Marathons at local schools and other activities also factor into the final amount.

Student leaders did not set a fundraising goal for this year, deciding instead to focus on “recommitting themselves to supporting the families,” Baccei said.

Members of the organization’s leadership team said they find this focus on families vital to the program.

“I think that is one of the things we get, it’s not just about the kid, we always use the word ‘family,’ ” said UI senior and family-relations executive director Becky Coe. “We understand that having a child with cancer does not just affect that child.”

Dance Marathon’s commitment to families is evident in the number of family members who choose to participate in the “Big Event,” which this year is more than 700.

The event will provide families and other attendees with plenty of entertainment. This year some of the performances and appearances will include Bamboo Shoots, Herky, Perky and the Spirit Squad, Intersection A’cappella, Miss Iowa, UI Breakers, and the Senior Citizen Drill Team, in addition to a live DJ.

Though the “Big Event” begins tonight, Dance Marathon continues year-round.

“We’ve been preparing since the last one,” said UI senior and morale director Eric Banwarth.

But the week before the final event is always the busiest.

“I think we all stopped sleeping Sunday night,” said UI senior and event executive director Kyle Walters.


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