Iowa State’s Dance Marathon hosts event virtually for the first time


Courtesy of Dance Marathon/Hannah Timm

Dance Marathon at Iowa State raised $125,304.25 this year, which the organization celebrated at their Big Event Saturday on Zoom.

Haley Thams

Iowa State’s Dance Marathon hosted its annual Big Event Saturday on Zoom. This was the first time the event had been hosted in a virtual format to protect participants. 

Dance Marathon is an organization that raises money and awareness for families across Iowa with life-threatening illnesses. Money raised is given to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network. 

This year Dance Marathon raised $125,304.25. 

The decision to make the switch from an in-person event to a virtual one was made swiftly, two weeks prior to Saturday. Participants had to register before the event to access the Zoom link.

Danielle Elliott is the events director for Dance Marathon. Elliott helped handle the transition, risk management and event authorization and has been involved with Dance Marathon for four years. 

“What’s changed really is that it’s just a shortened event. Instead of a 12 hour event, it’s shortened down to five,” Elliott said.

Elliott described the list of events that took place, such as the Angel Kiddo ceremony, family stories, committee recognition, high school reveal, opening and closing ceremonies and more. 

“I think you join this organization because it’s a good cause, but you definitely stay because of the friends you make,” Elliott said. 

Grace Estenson is a sophomore studying industrial design and is one of two branding directors. Specifically, Estenson designs graphics and helps manage the organization’s social media accounts.

“My favorite part is the direct impact it has on the kiddos,” said Estenson.

Olivia Jacobs is a junior studying kinesiology and health and is on the high school outreach committee. 

High schools in the area are also encouraged to establish their own Dance Marathon program and participate in Iowa State’s events. Six high schools participated, including Ames High and Webster City. 

Altogether, the participating high schools raised a little over $12,000. 

“There’s never a dull moment with Dance Marathon,” Jacobs said. 

Jacobs decided to join the high school outreach committee because she wants to help give others the opportunity she never had to learn about and participate in Dance Marathon before coming to college. 

Parts of her responsibilities include contacting the activity director at local high schools and gaining interest in being involved.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing how much money you raised and seeing the kiddos that are actually being treated at the hospital and hearing their stories,” Jacobs said.