Dance Marathon connects regent universities with philanthropy

Frances Myers

If ever Iowa State and University of Iowa students can come together for any sort of cause, it’s proven to be possible every winter when students from both schools dance — for the kids, that is.

Dance Marathon, a nationwide movement that involves both college and high school kids, involves more than 150 schools around the United States. Students at these schools work together to raise money for a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital within their community.

Iowa State and the University of Iowa both work to raise money for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City every year.

Chad Knight, co-director of recruitment and morale, has been involved with ISU Dance Marathon for five years. He originally joined Dance Marathon when he was in high school.

“It was something I did in high school, and then I found it here, and I loved it,” Knight said. “I found a different way to be involved every year. So, when I was a freshman, I was a dancer, and then, the next year I was on a committee. And then, the year after that, I was on the committee that I am now in charge of. My fourth year I was on the executive committee doing electronic media, and now, I’m in the recruitment and morale committee. So, it’s been a different set of things that I’ve done every year.”

Ben Bordeaux, senior in psychology at the University of Iowa, is the events director for the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon program. This year will be his fourth year of involvement with the event.

“I became involved through Phi Kappa Psi,” Bordeaux said. “I remember there was a big showing, and a guy I knew was on the leadership team. I joined and just fell in love with it.”

Dance Marathon was started at the University of Iowa in 1994. Over the past 18 years, it has raised more approximately $11.2 million.

Nic Rusher, executive director of the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon program, said the University of Iowa does not have a set monetary goal for their program.

“This year, we did not set a monetary goal because we believe the focus of our organization should be on the emotional support that we provide for our kids and families,” Rusher said.  “That being said, we are always looking to be bigger and better than last year. So, we have tried extremely hard to focus on our participants’ experience, making sure that it is the best it can be while they are part of UI Dance Marathon.”

Dance Marathon was started at Iowa State in 1998 and since then has continued to grow in its own right. Last year, ISU Dance Marathon raised approximately $380,742.

Szuyin Leow, senior in mechanical engineering, has been involved with ISU Dance Marathon for four years. She is also the co-director of recruitment and morale.

“I am in charge of all the morale captains who are in charge of the routines of dancers,” Leow said. She became involved through her sorority, Pi Beta Phi.

“I signed up on the team, not really knowing what it was,” Leow said. “It’s obviously made a huge impact on me, on my college career, and changed my life. It’s been a good thing.”

Leow is now the chapter president of her sorority. She said working with her fellow students for such a cause really made an impact on her life.

“There’s a really empowering feeling getting to see all these student leaders working together for a great cause like Children’s Miracle Network, and it’s so cool that a bunch of college students come together and raise thousands of dollars. So, that’s a huge deal,” Leow said.

Iowa State will be hosting its Dance Marathon on Jan. 26.

Dancers can begin arriving at the Memorial Union between 7 and 8 a.m. They will stay on their feet for 15 hours, listening to music, playing games, hanging out with the miracle children and dancing, with the celebration ending around midnight.

Rusher said some UI Dance Marathon members would also be making an appearance at ISU Dance Marathon’s big event to offer support.