Tealed up, ready to go: Dance Marathon prepares for annual 15-hour charity for the kids


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Dancers competed in the Dance Marathon Olympic games, which included a basketball competition using paper balls and trash cans, Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Memorial Union. 

Brian Keck

At 9 a.m. Saturday, more than 1000 people will be dancing through the doors of the Memorial Union.

This year marks the 17th annual 15-hour dance event put on by Iowa State Dance Marathon.

ISU Dance Marathon, which is the largest student run philanthropy at Iowa State, recruits new members and raises money year-round to support children being treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

“We put on events throughout the year just to give the kids a chance to be kids and the parents to forget about their medical bills at home and forget about the fact their child is sick so they can just have fun with their family,” said Dillon Flynn, senior in agricultural business and co-officer of families for Dance Marathon.

Saturday’s event will feature entertainment including live music, games, visits from ISU athletes, live entertainment and 15 hours of dancing.

Each year, Dance Marathon prepares a morale dance which is showcased the event.

“The morale dance is something we do every hour at the top of the hour; it’s a choreographed kind of mashup of different popular songs and goofy things we’ve heard,” said Ben Reuter, senior in mechanical engineering and co-officer of business relations for Dance Marathon.

Throughout the year, each dancer raises money by sending letters to families and friends for donations, fundraising on social media, asking for money in a can — commonly known as canning — and many more ways.

“Each dancer committed to raising $250; a lot of students raise even more than that,” said Jessica Pearce, senior in kinesiology and health and co-director of Dance Marathon. “I know a lot of dancers who have raised over $1,000 and a lot of committee members who have raised even more than that.”

Not including this year, Iowa State’s Dance Marathon has raised $2.3 million for the children’s hospital. This year’s total will be added to the grand total once it is released Saturday night.

35 miracle kids — children who receive treatment at the children’s hospital — and their families will be attending this year’s event.

“It’s amazing how we are impacting these kids right here: I hear their stories, I’ve seen their parents, I’ve met their siblings,” Pearce said. “We have a very local family that I get to see at church every week. Their miracle kid had surgery earlier in the fall; everything went well. There was a minor complication, got it all worked out and she’s doing much better and she is just a ball of sunshine.”

Students take part in Dance Marathon for many reasons, but they all show up to support the kids being treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

“Dance Marathon means so much to me,” said Anna Pringnitz, senior in communication studies and co-director of Dance Marathon. “I get to see all these college students give up their time and resources to stand for these kids they’ve never even met.”