Year: 2021
Amount Raised: $1,422,443.27

Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa has been unique year-to-year however, DM 27 was truly a year unlike any other. Less than one month after the DM 27 Executive Council and Chairs were selected, the campus was sent home in light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic. As the nation and world continued to experience new circumstances, DM families continued to need the essential support of our programming.

Vowing to provide unwavering and steadfast loyalty to our families, DM 27 launched the campaign Rise with Resilience, to serve as a reminder that despite the circumstances of the year, students and supporters alike would overcome every obstacle to do the absolute most as our families are so bravely resilient.

Through virtual playtimes and storytimes with the 11th floor at UISFCH to online meetings and events, virtual engagement allowed the UIDM community to thrive, connect and continue our mission. Activity boxes and a hospital volunteer Youtube channel were created to provide fun for DM kiddos and their families and serve as a reminder that UIDM is always here for them.

UIDM remained committed to inclusivity with the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director position and committee this 27th year. The focus included breaking down barriers for marginalized populations as well as ensuring that UIDM creates an inclusive and welcome environment. For many years to come, UIDM will strive to unlearn biases and become a space for everyone to belong with the aid of this committee.

Other incredible efforts and strides were made throughout our 27th year, as DM 27 continually adjusted. As the running events such as Kickoff to Kinnick and the Chicago Marathon were canceled, new online events took their place, and all across the country people connected with UIDM.

Intentionally building upon our foundation, DM 27 continued traditions through new formats. The annual fundraising push day known as Day to DM took place over 24-hours on a completely virtual platform. Students remained committed to financially supporting our families and fundraised an incredible $300,060.35. A new tradition was created three weeks before the Big Event, known as FTK Day. This day also focused on providing financial support to families by fundraising over $90,000.

As the Big Event is traditionally held the first weekend in February, the event was moved to February 26th-27th in order to provide more time for planning. The Big Event that typically hosts over 3,000 people in the Iowa Memorial Union was held virtually due to the state of the pandemic. The Executive Council and leadership members reimagined the annual celebration to make sure each kiddo, family, dancer, and community member feel joyful and connected despite the virtual format. Big Event boxes were sent to families and dancers, over the weekend a 24-hour live stream was located on the UIDM website. Traditions such as family walk-in, halfway there, kiddo graduation, and power hour continued, and even our beloved DJs participated in the celebration.

Success in UIDM is often measured by the final tote board number presented at the end of the Big Event. It is hard to quantify the love and support students give to families each year, though the number would surpass any dollar amount fundraised. However, despite the challenges and obstacles, DM 27 fundraised a staggering $1,422,443.27. This number is never a guarantee every year but the result of hours, days, weeks, and months of determination.

DM 27 was quite a memorable year and truly showcased the love students and community members have for DM families. Despite the circumstances, in its 27th year, DM showed that we are capable of resiliency and will overcome any obstacle for the kiddos and families we care so deeply for.

Elizabeth Jackson
DM 27 Executive Director