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Dance Marathon hosts 100 days out event

BY GRETA MEYLE | NOVEMBER 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Laughter echoed across the floor of the IMU Main Ballroom as ’90s music resonated from blaring speakers. Bright neon windbreakers, scrunchie hairdos, and most importantly, a sea of lime green peppered the dance floor on Thursday night for Dance Marathon’s “100 Days Out ā€” In the ’90s.”

Sporting overalls, a plaid button-up, and red lipstick, four-year participant and event committee member Rachel White said the outfits at Thursday’s gathering are barely comparable with what participants will wear in February.

“This event isn’t even half of the real deal,” White said. “We have a bunch of theme hours throughout the Big Event, but I cannot reveal what those are yet.”

Dance Marathon operations director Dakota Thomas said this event was meant to shadow what is to occur on Feb. 7-8, 2014 at the IMU.

“Tonight, we have half of [the ballroom] dedicated to dancing as it is in the main event, and the other half of it dedicated to activities such as video games,” Thomas said. “We’re really pleased with the turnout.”

Thomas estimated there were more than 500 people in attendance. In the past two years, the 24-hour event in February hosted roughly 14,000 people and 16,000 the year before.

Clocking in at 92 days out rather than the traditional 100 days out, the event was meant to replicate the ’90s, which represents when the first UI Dance Marathon took place, media-relations head Taylor McKee said in a press release.

Last year, the event raised $1.53 million for children cancer patients at the University of Iowa Children’sĀ  Hospitals. 2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Dance Marathon event, which began in 1995. Over the past 20 years, the organization has raised $12.7 million.

“This event was really to give dancers ā€” especially first-time dancers ā€” a motivation for why they are participating,” UI senior Brian Kistler said. “And to motivate them to raise their money.”

Kistler said Northwestern Mutual is the biggest monetary sponsor. Best Buy backed the event by donating ’90s video games such as Nintendo 64 and Super Mario. The Big Event will host two rooms of video games for both dancers and the children patients.

Longevity is key in keeping participants energized to continue their work, sponsorship director Katherine Ciminelli said.

“We do these events because we want to give participants longevity,” Ciminelli said. “We want them to get a feeling of what the event is like and keep participants engaged throughout the year and keep them reminded of why they are raising this money.”

An example was showcased at the event. One family spoke about their son, who has cancer and was treated in the bone-marrow unit at UIHC that Dance Marathon funds. When Dance Marathon occurs in February, a family speaks every hour about such experiences.

Exposures to cancer in families of their own were reasons both Kistler and White noted as the initial spark for participating in Dance Marathon.

“Both of our moms were diagnosed with cancer,” White said. “What keeps us going is seeing these kids not get a normal childhood while being in the hospital and then seeing them get so encouraged by what we do. So giving them the normal childhood they deserve [is why I continue to participate every year].”


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