Dance Marathon 19
Each person has a unique story when it comes to their time in UI Dance Marathon, but two things ring true for almost everyone: we start as a dancer and we rally behind the mission to improve the lives of those afflicted by pediatric cancer. The 19th year focused efforts on strengthening these two common bonds and aimed to build upon the 18-year history while also setting things up for the soon to be milestone year, DM20.
To start things off in the spring, we thanked the previous years’ dancers for their part in making DM18 so successful with our Dancer Appreciation Week. This entailed various events to demonstrate to dancers just how instrumental they are in the organization’s success and how impactful they are on each DM family.
Throughout the year, we made a concerted effort to provide new opportunities for dancers to connect with families on a more personal level. One such example was the creation of the Mile Motivators program for the runners in Dance Marathon the Marathon to help directly tie each mile of the Chicago Marathon with a specific DM child. We also reformatted the annual 100 Days Out event into a round robin where groups of dancers got to hear directly from families and learn their story in a personal setting. The aim behind each event organized was for dancers to feel more connected to the mission by way of engaging with families throughout the year.
As in other years, we made a concerted effort to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. To so this, our Public Relations and Marketing team coordinated a campus-wide campaign centered around the fact that 46 children are diagnosed each day with cancer. While UIDM and the color lime are synonymous with fighting against pediatric cancer, the campaign was centered around first creating a buzz around campus to have a captive and curious audience and then share about the realities of pediatric cancer and how they could help. To carry this out, the team printed white shirts and posters with a black 46 on them and promoted it without any initial explanation. At the end of the week, the true meaning of 46 was revealed along with additional information and facts on pediatric cancer and how students could help combat that through participating in UIDM. This was recognized with an award as the best marketing campaign across all Dance Marathons in the country for that year.
With DM20 being right around the corner, we made a concerted effort to highlight previous years’ participants and supporters to help add to the excitement a year in advance. We culminated this effort with showcasing a timeline on the history of UIDM at that Big Event that displayed the annual growth of UIDM and memorabilia from each year.
All these efforts resulted in raising over $1.5 million for the kids. While being an incredible accomplishment at the time, it’s amazing to look back and think just how exponential the growth has been since DM19. It took 19 years to raise $1.5 million annually and thanks to the continued efforts of everyone involved in DM20-DM24, that total has since doubled to $3 million in 5 short years. DM has never lost sight of its mission and will continue to make a meaningful impact for years to come.