Dance Marathon funds go to research, comfort care


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Toys, pajamas, and new hairstyles are all on the agenda this year. But so are new labs, more equipment, and research dollars.

When the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Allocation Committee meets in April to decide where the funds raised will go, the members will likely consider research just as much as comfort care.

In 2010, the Allocation Committee approved its biggest gift request to date — the $1 million UI Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Research Lab. The panel members said they hope the creation of this lab will be home to astounding pediatric cancer research breakthroughs and perhaps even a cure.

“By approving that donation, hopefully, it will allow more new doctors to conduct new research that will one day find a cure for childhood cancers,” said Kyle-Dale Walters, the executive director of Dance Marathon.

And that trend may continue this year.

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“All [approved requests] are important in different ways,” said committee member Kristen Sandberg. “Research is just as important as day-to-day funds such as patient comfort care, it’s just more long-term.”

The UI Children’s Hospital hopes to have the research lab completed sometime in 2011, but the exact date is unknown. The development of the lab depends on the dispersion of the donation — some of the funds were dispersed in 2010 and the rest of the funds will be distributed this year. UI Dance Marathon raised more than $1 million last year.

The approval by the Allocation Committee represents an increased interest in cancer research, said Bill Nelson, the director of the UI Office of Student Life and the Dance Marathon Allocations Committee head.

The committee also approved funding for various recurring projects, including the Pharmacy Co-Pay Program — which gives $1,000 to families for use toward medicine co-pays insurance may not cover — and summer family trips to Adventureland Theme Park.

“An important question that the students must ask is, how will Dance Marathon be recognized through this contribution?” Nelson said.

While the possibilities for requests are endless, he believes research, services, and emotional support should be the focus of the requests.

UI student dancers are slowly joining on the request for allocations process as well.

“There have been students who have requested mini-fridges be placed in the kids’ rooms so they can enjoy food from home,” Walters said.

According to its mission statement, Dance Marathon creates and sustains special projects as well as emotional and financial support for pediatric oncology and bone-marrow transplant patients and their families treated at the Children’s Hospital.

On Friday, the UI will host its annual Dance Marathon Big Event and the Allocations Committee members hope to receive as much, if not more, money than last year.

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