Blue bicycles benefits Dance Marathon families

Sarah Clark

Bikers are hopeful that blue skies will match their blue bicycles at this weekend’s first annual Teal Wheels bicycle benefit organized by the Iowa State Dance Marathon organization.

Along with a bike decoration contest and a tricycle race, the event will include an eight-mile fun-ride throughout the Ames community and the ISU campus.

All proceeds from Teal Wheels and Dance Marathon events directly benefit the Children’s Miracle Network locally through the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, which specializes in children’s health care and meeting the health care needs of children and their families.

“The funds we raise from Teal Wheels and Dance Marathon will be used to help a variety of children that are being treated for many different illnesses at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital,” said Emily Culp, junior in marketing and advertising and director of Dance Marathon public relations.

Last year, the UI hospital served more than 160,000 children in clinical visits and received more than 4,500 inpatient admissions. The hospital is ranked in the top 20 best children’s hospitals by Parents magazine and is a nationally recognized pediatric center of excellence.

ISU Dance Marathon is hopeful that Teal Wheels will raise even more support for the cause.

“Since the main part of Dance Marathon occurs once a year, we’re excited to extend our efforts to another event to benefit our cause,” Culp said.

The first Dance Marathon event was held in 1998 and raised more than $20,000. Since then, ISU Dance Marathon has raised a total of $1.5 million for the hospital with more than $180,000 coming from last year’s event.

Szuyin Leow, president of Dance Marathon, is hopeful that the Teal Wheels event will reach out to a new audience and bring in more support for the Dance Marathon organization.

“One of the most exciting things about putting on an event like Teal Wheels is that it is a completely unique event on Iowa State’s campus,” Leow said. “Through putting on this event, Dance Marathon hopes to reach out to a new audience that might not necessarily be interested in participating in our main Dance Marathon event in January.”

Both Leow and Culp expect to see both current and prospective members present at next weekend’s charity ride.

“While we definitely expect many students who are currently involved as dancers to participate in Teal Wheels, this bike ride is also a unique chance for a new group of students to get involved in our awesome cause,” Leow said.

“We hope to see many of our past dancers and future dancers attend Teal Wheels,” Culp said. “We hope that students will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in a brand new Dance Marathon event.”

Last year, Dance Marathon’s main event, which is held in January, had more than 900 student participants.

Shelby Miller, special projects director of Dance Marathon, is setting an optimistic goal for Teal Wheels’s attendance.

“It’s rough to estimate exactly how many students and community members will attend our event,” said Miller, senior in pre-diet and exercise. “But we hope for as many riders as there are bikes on campus.”

Dance Marathon is hopeful that Teal Wheels will become an annual event that continues to gain support for Dance Marathon and the Children’s Miracle Network.

“There aren’t many bike rides across campus, so we hope that this unique event will continue in the upcoming years as not only a Dance Marathon tradition, but also as a strong event for the Iowa State community,” Culp said.

Teal Wheels will be Saturday and is open to students, faculty and members of the Ames community.

Check-in begins at 9 a.m. at Hilton Coliseum and the ride follows at 10 a.m.

The ride will conclude at noon at Hilton Coliseum followed by a picnic for the miracle families at Brookside Park.

Prizes will be given to the winners of the tricycle race and to the riders with the most “tealtastic” Dance Marathon spirit.

Registration is $20 and includes a T-shirt. Registration can be completed online through the Dance Marathon website.