Dance Marathon hit Iowa State for the 19th year this weekend, once again making a lasting impact.
Overall, the fundraiser raised a grand total of $362,854.19. All donations are going to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. The actual 24-hour dance party that is Dance Marathon is the annual event that celebrates the year of fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
The event took place in the Memorial Union and several rooms were used for different types of activities.
Both nights began with an opening ceremony. Each team got together and ran through a large tunnel into the Great Hall, where a second stage was set up as an auxiliary to the main stage.
Two DJs played loud dancing music to pump up the crowd as it ran in on the temporary stage, which was lit by multiple bright lights and strobe lights.
Once everyone was inside of the Great Hall, the dance party began. Energy filled the room as the DJs kept cranking the music.
After the dance party settled down a bit, both DJ InZane and DJ Commando spoke. They told the crowd that if they see a Miracle kid, a child being treated at the University of Iowa’s Children’s Hospital, to give them a hug.
The DJs also asked the crowd to try to remain standing the entire 12 hours that they are there because the children who benefit from the donations never get a break from their sickness.
DJ InZane, whose given name is Brad Munford, and DJ Commando, who's actually Troy Williams, both were happy to be a part of the event. Both have years of experience in the music industry, but now enjoy giving back by helping at Dance Marathon events across the country.
“Hearing the stories of families and seeing the emotions touches me,” Williams said.
Munford agreed that he enjoys the event.
“I couldn’t consider myself a true Christian if there’s something that could be done and I’m not doing it,” Munford said. “It seemed the like right thing to do.”
Both DJs also agree that they hope to continue with Dance Marathon.
“They’re going to drag me off,” Munford said. “I hope to [DJ] until I’m no longer able to.”
Williams agreed, saying he will continue to DJ as long as Dance Marathon exists.
Once the DJs finished speaking, the MCs came onto the stage. They spoke about the cause a bit and then introduced the committee directors.
Next, each Miracle family who attended the event were introduced and walked on the stage and then down through a tunnel created by the dancers.
After each family was introduced, there was a candlelight memory in honor of previous Miracle children who passed away.
The opening ceremony continued after with more dancing. Some committee members came onto the stage and began talking about fundraising for the event.
They encouraged the dancers to keep raising funds throughout their 12 hours. The dancers were told that for every $100 raised during the event, a gong inside the Great Hall would be struck, which was always followed by loud cheering.
Another incentive to continue raising money was prizes for the highest fundraisers such as a FitBit or football signed by ISU head football coach Matt Campbell.
Next, Morale Captains showed everyone the Morale dance that they would learn later on. The Morale dance is a long choreographed dance to pieces of multiple popular songs.
After a few more events in the opening ceremonies and a few more speakers, the dancers and families dispersed into multiple different rooms with activities.
The carnival room had Wii Sports, arcade games, basketball and other games. The craft room allowed people to paint tiles and rock and was an area to color bookmarks.
There was a laser tag room, a Day-Glo room and even a silent disco room, among others.
The Campanile Room was set up for families to hang out if they needed to get away from the excitement of the event.
The Great Room’s stage was used for several events such as an ROTC fashion show and a hypnotist. In the other part of the room, there were inflatables set up as well as a photo booth and Foursquare.
Lights inside the Browsing Library and Chapel were turned off and only strings of holiday lights lit the room. A tunnel covered in pieces of paper allowed attendees to write the reason they personally fight for the children.
Paper bags with a picture and name of each Miracle child filled the Letters to Kiddos Room. Attendees were encouraged to write a letter or note to a child and place it in his or her bag.
Halle Arenholz, a Miracle Child was one of the children on those bags. This year was her first time at Iowa State’s Dance Marathon, although she had been to Wartburg’s and the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathons in the past.
“My favorite part was the fashion show,” Arenholz said, who was dressed as an ISU cheerleader.
Her father, Todd Arenholz, also attended the event.
“[Dance Marathon] is awesome,” he said. “It’s our first time at Iowa State because our daughter goes to school here now.”
After several hours of attendees checking out each room, everyone met in the Great Hall to formally learn the Morale Dance.
As the first half of the event wound down, members joined in the Thank You Circle. Dancers formed a line throughout the Memorial Union, making a circle. Families then passed through and individually thanked each dancer.
The final hour was called Power Hour, where everyone danced in the Great Hall the entire time. Popular music played and the DJs mashed the end of one song into the next. They even played an ISU favorite, "Sweet Caroline."
The dance floor and stage was packed with people.
The closing ceremonies rounded off the end of the final hour. The highest individual fundraiser was announced and presented greek awards. A few family stories were told as well.
Sara and Tim Connell had their son Jacob five years ago. He was born very premature, and they described him as the weight of five sticks of butter and the length of a 20-ounce bottle.
Jacob underwent heart surgery and was living on a feeding tube until this past August. He was energetiv and told the crowd he likes mashed potatoes.
“Every year, I’m so impressed that this is put on by college students,” Sara Connell said. “It makes such a difference with the kiddos and family.”
The Connells are grateful for the event and said they get to benefit firsthand since Jacob is treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Jacob said his favorite parts of Dance Marathon are painting and wearing his dinosaur costume.
The dancers all had different reasons for being there, but they had one thing in common: they wanted to help children.
“I love it,” said Melanie Trepa, freshman in public relations. “My sister went through Iowa’s Children’s hospital when I was in high school, so when I came to college I wanted to do it.”
Another first-year dancer was excited to be there.
“It’s awesome,” said Bridget Bouska, senior in mathematics. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s so inspiring.”
More than $3.2 million has been raised for the program since it began at Iowa State. Preparations for next year, the 20th year, have already begun.