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UI Dance Marathon funds programs to support patients and families

BY CASSIDY RILEY | JANUARY 22, 2013 6:30 AM

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Camping, laptops, and flowers have all made appearances on the budget.

The last time the University of Iowa Dance Marathon allocations committee met in October, funds were allocated to — among other things — Camp Heart Connection for the oncology patients and their siblings, laptops for the use of inpatient families, and the Dancing in Our Hearts and Flower Fund to assist with funeral costs.

While all different in nature, all funds go to projects that work toward fulfilling Dance Marathon’s mission.

“We want our funds to benefit the families and the kiddos that are being treated at University of Iowa’s Children’s Hospital,” said Courtney Bond, the university’s Dance Marathon advisor.

Bond is the secretary of the allocations committee, which is responsible for dispersing the funding raised by Dance Marathon to different projects. The committee meets twice a year to discuss proposals and decide on what projects to fund.

In the past, the allocations committee has voted to support projects ranging from genetic testing research, informational packets for parents about their child’s condition, and continental breakfasts for the children and their families at the hospital. The committee has 15 voting members.

“It’s a very diverse group of people representing lots of areas of expertise,” said Bill Nelson, the chairman of the panel.

The first 10 members are representatives of the hospital and Dance Marathon executives. The remaining five are made up of several different groups including a representative from UI Student Government, Iowa City, the IMU, a Dance Marathon alum, and a family representative.

The committee will meet again in April to discuss Dance Marathon 19 proposals. Nelson said it is hard to say what kind of proposals they will receive but he expects to see both renewal projects, such as the funding for informational packets for families, and new proposals. Since the spring of 2011, the committee has also been dedicated to providing $5 million over 10 years to the fund for the new Children’s Hospital.

“The decisions we make certainly are not arbitrary,” Nelson said. “They’re based on alignment with the mission of Dance Marathon, alignment with the strategic priorities of the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, and in accordance with the rules of the Dance Marathon allocation committee.”

Graduate student Nic Rusher, who has been involved with Dance Marathon since he was a freshman at the UI, is now the executive director of Dance Marathon and a voting member of the allocation committee.

“At the time, it just sounded like something fun to do,” he said. “It just kind of grabbed ahold of me, and it’s kind of been that way ever since. I’ve changed what I want to do with my career because of some of the opportunities I’ve had with Dance Marathon.”

Rush said that when voting on the committee, he takes into account not only if a proposal is in line with the Dance Marathon mission statement but also how broad the scope of its effect will be.

“We want to make sure we’re making the biggest impact that we can,” he said. “It’s a privilege to sit on that [committee] and have that responsibility, so we take it very seriously.”


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