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Local businesses dance, dance, dance

BY CORY PORTER | JANUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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Through the years, Dance Marathon has grown from a mainly student-focused event to one that includes the whole community. Because of this, the organization has seen the largest number of major donations, or sponsorships, in its history. 

Katharine Marshall, the sponsorship director of Dance Marathon, said the sponsorship program for a business begins with a minimum of $1,000.

A contribution of $15,000, however, means the company is a presenting sponsor, which in the past, Marshall said, was just one company a year.

This year, however, there are four presenting sponsors  — the University of Iowa Foundation, Panchero’s, Running Wild, and the Etre Restaurant Group.

“We’ve worked with all of these organizations before in some capacity,” Marshall said. “They’ve just increased their level of involvement to a presenting sponsor this year.”

Lynette Marshall, the president of the UI Foundation, said she appreciates the leadership opportunities Dance Marathon gives to students, which is why she wanted the foundation to become a presenting sponsor this year.

“We believe that Dance Marathon exemplifies the spirit of philanthropy on our campus as well as any student organization,” she said. “So, we felt like it was completely consistent with our mission to increase our support for Dance Marathon.”

Phil Young, in charge of outreach, buying, and budgets at Running Wild, 121 E. Washington St., said seeing how it affects lives made it a no-brainer when it came time to step up the establishment’s support.

“The cause is incredible. You get to hear stories of families who have beat this thing,” he said. “We just felt like how can we help.”

Local restaurateur George Etre of the Etre Restaurant Group said when he meets with his staff to work on marketing, Dance Marathon promotion is often worked into the conversation.

“We try to think of how we can incorporate more effort and spotlight to raise more money for Dance Marathon,” he said.

Etre has even gone so far as to offer a “Dance Marathon” sushi roll at his Asian-fusion restaurant Formosa, 221 E. College St., with $1 from each roll going to support Dance Marathon.

This year, there are 56 sponsors, a 41 percent increase in sponsorship contributions compared with last year.

“Obviously we work with sponsors in a variety of different levels; we have sponsors who donate more than $15,000 every year, but we really appreciate every single one of our sponsors,” Marshall said.

Jennifer Stukey, a branch manager from Team Management Solutions Inc. of Muscatine, said her company began supporting Dance Marathon for the first time this year after one of her accountants brought her the idea.

The accountant, Blake Laughton, a UI alum who participated in Dance Marathon, asked that the company’s first donation in the Iowa City community be toward that cause.

“It’s a huge thing for Blake,” Stukey said, “So we are happy to donate for that.”


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