Dance Marathon 23
Dance Marathon 23 can be remembered for all of the DM staples; innovative thinking, hard work, a continued passion for the kids, and overcoming adversity along the way. However, the 23rd year of Dance Marathon marked a very special milestone that was made possible by every participant since its inception: the opening of the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, housing the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center, located on level 11 of this shining beacon of hope. Many hours of work alongside hospital leadership, nurses, doctors, and child life specialists were spent restructuring Dance Marathon’s new and increased involvement at the hospital. This change allowed for more volunteers, more activities, and more time with Dance Marathon kids and families.
While this new hospital brought hope to many of our Dance Marathon Families, it also reminded us of those who would not get to experience the 11th floor, families of children who are forever dancing in our hearts. We held the inaugural Dancing In Our Hearts (DIH) Walk, an evening candle-lit walk through Lower City Park to memorialize our Dancing In Our Hearts children and families. Complete with a remembrance of each of our DIH children, sharing of stories from families and students, and a balloon release, the DIH Walk became an important and impactful new tradition for Dance Marathon.
While we were hyper-focused on the kids and our new hospital, DM23 continued to build on tradition and have more firsts. We welcomed new students to the University of Iowa with the first ever “DM After Dark” event, partnering with orientation week to provide a look into Dance Marathon with a mini 4 hour Big Event! Dance Marathon 23 held the first annual Fore The Kids Golf Tournament where we welcomed sponsors and community members for 18 holes of golf FTK, expanding our outreach. We found new ways to bring the families to the forefront of the organization with the inaugural Runway of Hope event, a fashion show where Dance Marathon kids and families showcased attire from community sponsors and student organizations. Students celebrated the second annual UIDM Fundraising Push Day by raising $220,197.03 in just 24 hours! Additionally, we collaborated with the 13 other Dance Marathon programs across Iowa for the first statewide DM awareness and fundraising day, showcasing each of the other schools and their miracle kids and collectively raising $94,861.28!
All of the hard work was complemented with a lot of fun. With the family theme for Dance Marathon 23 being Finding Nemo, students thought it a natural fit that Ellen Degeneres would join us at the Big Event. We were very valliant in our efforts to reach Ellen, and even thought that we had a personal contact to make it happen at one point. We wish future Dance Marathons the best of luck in the continued effort to reach Ellen!
As we celebrate the 25th year of the incredible tradition that is the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, DM23 is so thankful for each year that came before that allowed us to be successful and make the impacts that we did for our kids and families!
-Morgan Kennedy, Dance Marathon 23 Executive Director