Dance Marathon Pledges $5 Million
The University of Iowa Dance Marathon originated from a small group of passionate students in 1994 who took the initiative to raise $31,000 to benefit children battling pediatric cancer at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Now, 17 years later, Dance Marathon has grown to include over 1,370 participants and in 2011 raised a record-breaking $1,220,146.17.
Recently, UI Dance Marathon pledged to donate $5 million over a ten-year period to a new University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. The student organization’s rich history made the donation possible and gave the student-run organization a positive outlook on the future.
“This donation to the hospital is the next step for Dance Marathon,” said Nic Rusher, UI Dance Marathon hospital director. “It wasn’t just about this past year and how much money we have raised, but how every dancer in the past has allowed us to get to this point.”
WOW, a group comprised of various planning directors within the hospital is dedicated to designing the layout for the new building. All members are striving to make the new hospital the best experience for everyone.
“Our main goal is to make the children and families feel comfortable and not wanting them to feel like they are in a hospital,” said Rusher, who is also a committee member of WOW. “We want them come into the new hospital and all they can say is ‘wow’.”
The hospital’s structure will be an eleven-story tower located on Hawkins Drive and Melrose Avenue. The building will be designed to help heal and treat all children who seek care there. The plans, according to Rusher, are very tentative right now, but they are currently deciding upon building space and floor layouts. The building should be completed by December 2015 and construction could be starting as early as this summer.
The decision to help fund the building came from the 15-member UI Dance Marathon Allocation Committee comprised of five Dance Marathon executives, community, alum, and family representatives, and hospital personnel. The Committee’s responsibility is to review and approve funding requests.
“Dance Marathon has many programs in place at UI Children’s Hospital, however, they are very specialized and don’t serve and support all our families at one time,” said Courtney Bond, Dance Marathon advisor. “While they all might utilize the programs at one time or another—donating to the new UI Children’s Hospital helps Dance Marathon support all families every time they head to the hospital for care.”
The new hospital plans to include the latest cutting edge technology, providing the highest quality care for children. Both Rusher and Bond agree upon making the hospital feel like a home.
“Administrators have been doing a lot a research from other similar facilities looking for ways to make it fun, interactive, and a place where children will feel very comfortable,” said Bond.
“I want people to actually enjoy their time there. I hope the families are able to relax and feel safe that their child is in good hands with our new facility,” said Rusher.
According to Bond, this gift exemplifies to the community UI Dance Marathon’s commitment to making an impact at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. As a student-run organization, it also provides real life experience that can’t be found in the classroom to its student leaders.
“I think it challenges the student leaders to rise to a higher level of expectation and accountability which will only help provide a more beneficial learning experience to them,” said Bond. “Dance Marathon, while a student organization, also mimics a business—which the practice of running a small business provides great co-curricular learning in order to compliment what they are learning in the classroom.”
As Dance Marathon looks towards the future, the organization remembers what alumni have done in the past to allow the student organization to make a gift of this magnitude.
“As a Dance Marathon alum, myself—I am very proud of the decision to support the new UI Children’s Hospital,” said Bond. “This organization has nearly doubled in size since my participation as an undergrad, and it’s potential for giving to programs at the hospital as well as to things like the new building is humbling, considering the funds are raised by students.”
Bond continued, “I’m very proud of the decision that was made and I can’t wait to see the new facility.”