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Dance Marathon Alumni stay connected

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | JANUARY 28, 2015 5:00 AM

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Next week, the IMU Main Ballroom will be covered in lime green, filled with dancers eager to stay energized for 24 hours straight.

At the same time, another group of people will experience this journey along with them, but they will have the luxury of sitting down.

Christin Meyer, the vice president of the Dance Marathon Alumni Group leadership board and a 2012 UI graduate, said alumni get to relive their dancing days, just in different ways, as they watch students create memories and experience the feelings she once did.

“Once you do one Dance Marathon, it changes your life forever,” she said. “[We’re] just seeing it from another perspective.”

Adam Blind, a 2006 UI graduate and former member of the Dance Marathon Executive Council, started the alumni board with his wife after they saw a need to keep recent graduates involved with the program.

The board facilitates communication with former Dance Marathon participants all across the country in order to help coordinate fundraising events and keep the ever-expanding group up to date.

For Dance Marathon 21, the group saw some fresh faces with new board President Nic Rusher. He was involved with Dance Marathon for six years during his undergraduate and graduate studies at the UI and continues to host fundraising events in Kansas City, where he now resides.

“Dance Marathon played a huge role through my college career and my life as well,” he said. “The kids and families deserve all the support that they can get.”

There are 13,300 UI Dance Marathon alumni in the country, and they are represented in all 50 states, Rusher said.

In addition to his efforts in Kansas City, he helps coordinate fundraisers with other alumni from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Last year, the group raised more than $109,000 for the record-breaking fundraising approximately $1.8 million for Dance Marathon 20. Roughly 200 alumni came back to Iowa City for the big event.
This year, Rusher said, he expects a figure close to last year’s check total, if not higher.

For Dance Marathon 21, the group has an opening ceremony planned in the Levitt Center in which the members will watch this year’s dancers on the big screen, followed by a luncheon, and, as in past years, they will present their annual checks to the organization.

Alumni will also get a spirit-dancing option.

Adam Blind, who met his wife through Dance Marathon, said alumni may take the time to reconnect with families they were once tied to and catch up with old friends.

“You meet a lot of people in the organization, families, people in the hospital, whom you just become friends with, and you want to find a way to have an excuse, I guess you could say, to keep a relationship going,” he said.

One of the people who will be present for the big day’s events include 2012 UI graduate Catie Malooly, who spent a day in Chicago last week raising funds.

She said another popular way alumni stay involved is by donating directly to dancers who are close to reaching their fundraiser goals.

Her support for Dance Marathon is a result of the effect the organization has made on her life during her years as a UI student, she said.  

“We just want to keep giving back to an organization that gave so much to us,” she said. “Once you’re in it, you’re hooked, and you’re always going to be a supporter.”


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