Dance Marathon 10

Marking the 10-year anniversary of the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, the “largest student-run philanthropy west of the Mississippi” (as we shamelessly self-promoted!) was a responsibility that every member of the Executive Council on down through the Leadership Team took seriously.  We were walking in the footsteps of wise student leaders who had gone before us, and wanted to honor their hard work and determination. So much had been accomplished in nine years, and enthusiasm for the mission had grown by leaps and bounds. Of course, as all student leaders do, we also wanted to leave our own personal mark on the organization and its outlook for the future.  Hence, our motto for DM10: A Tradition of Dance, A Future of Hope.

Riding on a high from the outcome of DM9, two new director positions were added to the executive council, and approximately 300 students – more than ever – were recruited to fulfill roles on the Leadership Team.  As the number of sponsored families also kept growing, this was reflected in the decision that was made in regard to increasing the executive council – creating the Family Programming Director and the Family Representative Director positions.  With the structure of the organization evolving, our focus on family relations was increasing. We were reminding the University of Iowa community that Dance Marathon is not just a twenty-four-hour event, but a year-long effort to support families affected by childhood cancer.  More seasonal family events were created to bring together students and sponsored families. More student organizations were brought into the fold to be paired families. The day that we realized the UI Bass Fishing Club had signed up to participate and sponsor a family was an especially proud one in the DM office!

Our public relations campaign kicked off with a new undertaking to bring attention to DM10 early in the fall semester.  On September 16 under the cover of night, executive and committee members gathered in Hubbard Park to place 2,326 cut-out paper feet on dowel rods into the ground – one for each person involved with DM over the course of its ten-year existence on campus.  It was a sight to behold, and garnered the attention of both the campus and city communities when they awakened the next morning.

The event itself continued to grow, as the combined number of dancers and Leadership Team members continued to approach capacity limits in the Main Lounge of the IMU.  The 2nd floor ballroom was utilized as a “second stage” during the event to create more space.  We continued to stretch out and occupy nearly every other room in the IMU. A Dance Marathon alumni banquet was held during the event over at the Sheraton Hotel, prior to having them join us at the event.  And while our intent was to create a memorable anniversary event, the focus on the families and the impact felt at the hospital remained the ultimate vision and purpose for our efforts, of course.

The founding DM Advisor, Mary Peterson, was set to retire after the end of the 2003-2004 academic year.  Any DM student who was advised by her will recall her mantra of “WHEN Dance Marathon raises a million, ….” and her push to make that happen each year she advised DM.  At that time, it was hard to fathom what it would take to make it happen. It seemed like a distant reality. But then again, so did DM25… and here we are!

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