Dance Marathon claims top spot in Big 12

Frances Myers

Last year, Iowa State’s Dance Marathon earned the right to the top spot in the Big 12. The group’s members raised more than $180,000 for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network.

Dance Marathon made its debut at Iowa State 14 years ago, and it is now the largest student-run philanthropy effort at Iowa State, according to a Dance Marathon news release. The group has various fundraising methods, including the main event, the annual “Kickin’ it for the Kids” fundraiser. Students that have raised at least $200 for the organization come and spend the day with ISU Dance Marathon-sponsored families.

“A large reason for [our] success is that Dance Marathon has become a tradition at Iowa State and more and more students are participating,” said Justin Van Wert, senior in agriculture business and recruitment chair for Dance Marathon. “In my opinion, we do a great job of recruiting and retaining dancers, which is an important part of being successful.”

This week is Dancer Appreciation Week, where ISU Dance Marathon reaches out to registered dancers check the progress of their fundraising, make sure any questions dancers may have are answered and to increase excitement for the event.

Dance Marathon hosts several events and promotions during this week. At the beginning of the week, members of the Dance Marathon committee went around the residence halls and put signs on dancers’ doors to recognize the dancers who will be at the Dance Marathon event in January.

Claire Dupey, senior in childhood education and president of Dance Marathon, said that Dancer Appreciation Week is not only meant to show how much Dance Marathon appreciates registered dancers. It is also meant to help recruit and retain members.

“Something that Iowa State and other universities struggle with is actually getting students to sign up, raise the money and attend the actual event,” Dupey said. “We know that if students participate once, they are hooked. So our aim with having an appreciation week is to let students know that they truly are a part of a wonderful organization and that we want to do all we can to support them in their fundraising efforts.”

“This week is all about reaching out to these dancers to let them know how excited we are that they have chosen to be a part of this great organization,” said Kayla Hunefeld, senior in advertising and public relations director for Dance Marathon. “We wanted to promote the social aspect of Dance Marathon by hosting several fun activities throughout the week. It is our hope that dancers will attend these events and get to know people on their team that they might not know yet and get pumped for January.”

In order to raise $180,000 last year, Dance Marathon members went canning during football games, held mini-marathons with area high schools, held raffles and worked with local businesses to hold “Giveback” nights where the company donated a percentage of sales from the night to Dance Marathon.

“Although a big focus for dancers is the day-of event, ISU Dance Marathon committee members are hard at work year-round fundraising,” Hunefeld said.

ISU’s Dance Marathon does not have a set goal for money dancers are to raise by the time January comes around, as many might expect.

“I know that since we have come close to breaking $200,000 in recent years, it would be incredible to do so this year, but any amount of money that we raise makes a huge difference in the lives of children and families across Iowa,” Dupey said.