Dance Marathon 5K and picnic connect the community


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Around 400 students, community members, and families of affected children participated in the first ever For the Kid’s Day on Sunday.

Dance Marathon hosted a 5K marathon, followed by a picnic, in City Park.

“[The day’s purpose is] to give Dance Marathon dancers and the community members more opportunities to get involved and spend time with kids and families,” said Erin Larsen, the executive director of Dance Marathon. “It’s a bit of a fundraiser as well.”

In previous years, Dance Marathon hosted a 5K and picnic on separate occasions. This was the first year the two were combined.

Registration fees and shirt sales will go towards Dance Marathon. Drake Wilbur, the public-relations and marketing director of the organization, said he estimates the organization will raise approximately $10,000 at this event alone.

At the event, stations of snacks, face painting, cookie decorations, among others, were set up for families and runners.

“It’s both a fundraiser for our families, and it gives them a chance to meet people,” Wilbur said. “It also is one of the more fun events we throw for the families.”

Cedar Rapids resident Jenny Olson has attended the picnic event with her family every year since her 6-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer in August 2010.

“It’s great they combined it because there aren’t not two separate days to get people together,” she said.

Her family attends other events Dance Marathon hosts throughout the year. Olson said they attain huge benefits from the events, especially directly after treatment.

“We’ve met a lot of families and made a lot of friends,” she said. “It’s a big family reunion seeing everyone celebrating another year of health and remission.”

Next year, the family plans on being involved in the run as well.

Executive members on Dance Marathon hoped to have more participants at the events this year. Of the 400 people registered for the event, 120 of them were family members attending the picnic.

Junior Tess Noeller, who ran the 5K for the first time this year, said she also plans on participating in the Big Event, a 24-hour dance party hosted by Dance Marathon in February.

“This is a really good organization,” she said. “[I’m willing to do] anything that helps the kids.”

The next event Dance Marathon is hosting is a community day in downtown Iowa City on Oct. 4.

“It’s about fostering those relationships with the downtown community,” Wilbur said.

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