UI alum brings photo booth to Dance Marathon


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Eight years after her first year dancing, Courtney Cook is becoming involved in the University of Iowa Dance Marathon once again. This time, however, she’s bringing a photo booth with her.

“I was involved in Dance Marathon for four years,” she said. “After [I graduated], I always tried to be as supportive as possible, but with student loans and then I started teaching, it was difficult.”

The UI alum participated in Dance Marathon all four years during her college years, beginning in 2005.

Cook started her photography company three years ago, and last year, she resolved to use it as a way to give back. She plans on donating 10 percent of the proceeds she makes from her business to Dance Marathon every year. She raised roughly $1,000 last year, while moving from Colorado to Iowa. In the next few years, she hopes to “add a zero to that” and raise $10,000.

The photo booth will be one of the new additions to Dance Marathon. The booth will travel around during the Big Event, from the ballroom to the room with the families. The photos will be free and will all be uploaded to Facebook for the participants to see.

Dance Marathon executive director Nic Rusher said the photo booth is a unique way of remembering the night to the participants in the Big Event.

“Most people in the past have taken pictures with their phones or cameras,” he said. “People couldn’t get a group shot with their family or friends unless they took it themselves. Although we have had this type of thing in the past, it hasn’t been consistent. This will be a way to capture the experience in film.”

Cook views the photo booth as an offering of gratitude for the participants and is hopeful it will add to the enjoyment at the Big Event.

“A lot of it is a reward for the dancers to have a little fun,” Cook said. “We want to show the dancers we’re here for you. I think it’s just as important to show the dancers to be recognized as it is for the families.”

Dance Marathon adviser Courtney Blind encourages students to participate in the Big Event even after they’ve graduated.

“Dance Marathon is a culture, and once you’re a part of that culture, there’s a little part of it that always stays with you,” she said. “It’s important with [past] students to keep them involved. Also, the alumni can provide the organization with their connections, and that’s important to perpetuate the program and keep Dance Marathon going.”

Cook believes Dance Marathon is an important cause and says it is hard to explain Dance Marathon in words.

“There really has been no other time in my life quite like Dance Marathon and the Big Event,” she said. “For 24 hours, students not only dance but unite together to simply serve others.”

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