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UI Dance Marathon Big Event arrives amid fanfare

BY REBECCA MORIN | FEBRUARY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s the final countdown.

In just a few hours, 365 days of effort from students, staff, the community, and families will be showcased as Dance Marathon kicks off the 19th Big Event tonight in the IMU. And it’s all “For the Kids.”

Dance Marathon, a student organization focused on supporting young cancer patients and their families, has been a tradition at the University of Iowa since 1995. What started as a small event with 26 families 18 years ago has grown to include 750 families. With the support of 2,100 registered dancers, numerous alumni, and membersof  the community, Dance Marathon includes many individuals who have anticipated this weekend’s Big Event all year.

“We’re just really excited for this weekend and to see all our hard work pay off,” said Erin Ketterer, a Dance Marathon morale captain.

Dance Marathon dancers and leadership personally raise their own amount of money to participate in the 24-hour event. With the help of family and friends, dancers raise at least $400; leaders have to raise at least $550.

“I used an online giving page, and I spread the word to family, friends, people I worked with, and through social media,” said senior Michelle Ruthig, a member of the event’s committee.

Last year, Dance Marathon raised $1.369 million, which brought the total amount of money raised to more than $10 million since the organization first started on campus. The grand total now stands at more than $11.2 million.

Dance Marathon executives say their goal is simple: continue to grow.

“We don’t know how much we are going to make, we just hope to continue to grow,” said Courtney Blind, the UI Dance Marathon adviser.

However, Dance Marathon is not just a student-sponsored fundraiser. Local businesses also support the cause by providing gift cards, food, and monetary donations.

“We all have to raise our own money, but we also try to get the community involved,” Ketterer said. “We have community days at local restaurants.”

Businesses such as Z’Mariks Noodle CafĂ© partake in community days throughout the year. Yotopia Frozen Yogurt, Panda Express, and Formosa Asian Cuisine provide food to help aid the dancers during their 24-hour endeavor.

“Thank you to those who have been involved, the dancers, the alumni, and the community,” said Nic Rusher, the Dance Marathon executive director.

Food isn’t the only thing that will motivate participants to persevere.

Every hour during the Big Event, a family will speak to the dancers, which fills them with hope and energy to make through the 24 hours.

“It’s definitely nice to have a family speaker every hour,” Ruthig said. “It keeps us motivated and remember why we are doing this.”

The efforts of everyone involved in Dance Marathon 365 days a year are celebrated during the Big Event, Rusher said. Friends gather as a family to celebrate the brave survivors, as well as gather in memory of the souls who will never be forgotten.

“It’s definitely hard work, but at the end of my day, I couldn’t imagine doing anything more worthwhile,” Bond said.


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