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Dance Marathon prepares for final stretch

BY GRETA MEYLE | DECEMBER 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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As time winds down to Feb. 7 and 8, the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon Executive Board is in the final stretch of preparation for the Big Event.

Dance Marathon adviser Kyle Walters said the organization has been working on preparations for a few months now, and it is no small task.

“In a nutshell, our big event final prep has been underway for a couple months now,” Walters said. “We have a Big Event prep Google doc, and each director has a list of things to do … That prep doc we use is about 12 pages long, and we highlight things we have completed. It’s currently more green than anything else, so that’s a good thing.”

While the Executive Board members receive some time off over Christmas, members will return early in early January with two meetings a week to collaborate.

Dance Marathon Development Director Sammantha Marks said preparation is still as active as it will be after Christmas and will most likely last until the days of the Big Event, Feb. 7 and 8.

“It’s such a combined effort from every single person — I mean, so much goes into the big event, and it would not happen if it wasn’t for the amazing people who make up leadership team and all the dancers who contribute,” Marks said. “It is really a year-round effort; it’s not just the Big Event that makes a difference for our kiddos, and it’s not just a one-man effort — there are so many people behind it that are doing amazing things.”

Many of those amazing things have yet to be accomplished though, Marks said, calling the preparation “nonstop.”

“Really, everyone is meeting with external connections because in order to successfully have a Big Event, you have to remain in good relationships with those who are [contributing],” Marks said. “There are just so many different parts that kind of unite the day of the Big Event.”

Because it will be Dance Marathon’s 20th anniversary, Walters said, a special initiative will make preparation even greater. While the organization invites Dance Marathoner alumni to return to the Big Event every year, this year the alumni will be welcomed back in a special event at Kinnick Stadium for the first time.

Marks said she was excited about the alumni returning.

“I know a lot is in store for the alumni to captivate their interest in celebrating the 20th anniversary,” she said. “As someone who has been on leadership for a few years, [our job now] is so easy compared with the people who were on leadership 10 years ago, because they set amazing foundations with community sponsors and other people that we work with.”

UI spokesman Tom Moore said the work the students of Dance Marathon do reflects the university’s character.

“I think it’s invaluable,” he said. “Just the way the students represent this university is tremendously important — it goes way beyond the money that’s raised, and those funds are impressive. It just speaks volumes about our students, and their commitment, and their passion, and that is something that you cannot buy.”

University of Iowa President Sally Mason said she looks forward to the Big Event as always, and it would not be possible without students’ efforts.

“Dance Marathon is one of those events that I look forward to every year,” she said. “The passion that our students have for this cause, and the compassion they show for children affected by cancer and their families is nothing short of magnificent, and I could not possibly be more proud of them …”


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