More than just a dance


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Today marks the beginning of the 19th-annual University of Iowa Dance Marathon. Nearly 2,100 students will participate this year, and each agrees the goal is to make even more money than last year.

Dance Marathon has already been recognized as one of the top ten biggest college fundraisers in the United States, but for the University of Iowa, there is no larger source of fundraising and no larger student organization on campus. It’s a student organization dedicated to raising money to help find a cure and ease the pains of treatment and loss all caused by pediatric cancer.

It’s a goal that everyone can support, and UI students should find a time during their college experience to get involved with Dance Marathon.

“I think Dance Marathon has really changed my life,” said senior Carly Grant, a Dance Marathon morale captain. “When I see what these kids go through, dancing for 24 hours and running a marathon seem so small — if they can do it, I can, too.”

While Dance Marathon culminates once a year in the 24-hour dance party in the IMU, the volunteers and dancers are busy all year raising money, helping the families, and finding ways to improve the lives of children suffering from any type of pediatric cancer.

“We work 365 days a year,” Grant said. “Right after the Big Event, we already start applications for next year and are already working on it all over again.”

Other than dancing, volunteers are also encouraged to participate in the Chicago Marathon and pledge to raise $400 for the race. Volunteers are also able to volunteer at the hospital and provide comfort for the kids who are going through treatment.

“I’ve gone to play with the kiddos in the hospital and their huge smiles always impress me,” Grant said. “It’s really emotional, but it reminds you why you’re there.”

Over the last 18 years, Dance Marathon has raised more than $11 million. Was started in 1994 by students who were able to raise $31,000 and get the program started. Since then, students have raised more money almost every year breaking the million-dollar mark in 2008 and continuing to do so every year since.

“Our goal is to raise more money than we did last year,” said Dance Marathon adviser Courtney Blind. “There is a lot of money coming in still; we are counting up until the very last minute.”

Blind has participated in Dance Marathon since she was an undergraduate; this will be her eighth year to dance the entire 24 hours.

“When I got the opportunity to give back as an adviser, I jumped on it,” she said.

Dance Marathon is not all about wearing bright colors, raising money, and playing with kids. It’s about finding a cure for pediatric cancer. The group has pledged $5 million to the UI Children’s Hospital building fund over the next 10 years, but the rest of the money raised each year is allocated to different causes including making time better at the hospital, research for treatments, and funeral costs.

Still, the dancing is for the sake of finding a cure.

“Hopefully, one day, we won’t have to have a Dance Marathon,” Grant said.

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