Year: 1998
Amount Raised: $225,317.71

A few things happened during the planning of DM4, which would take place in February 1998, that made us realize the organization was “growing up.”

Early in that planning year, two of our most well-known and visible DM kiddos, Jamie Bonnichsen and Casey Even, passed away. It was the first time that our organization experienced widespread grief. We realized that, while we had been encouraging and fostering strong relationships between patients/families and UI students, we hadn’t prepared our students to know how to handle that grief. We also recognized that, in the course of wanting to be as helpful and as close as possible to these families, students were taking on an overwhelming amount of stress. With help from our professional advisers and hospital staff, we began acknowledging and encouraging healthy boundaries for students and offering resources for grief support.

Given the high number of dancer registrants, it was the first year we needed to contemplate the fact that the Main Lounge has an occupancy maximum. (Many, many creative students since then have found ways to push the limits of that capacity and ensure the Big Event can remain in the IMU.) Prior to that year, dancers were restricted to the Main Lounge and had to check out to use the restroom and eat their meals (following the procedures put in place by Penn State.) In the middle of our Big Event, we experienced a philosophical shift in that thinking when, during an early morning Exec huddle in the River Room, we saw dancers outside on the sidewalk. Our directory of security grabbed his radio and yelled, “Security! We have dancers outside! Get them back to the Main Lounge!” We realized how silly that sounded and decided, on the spot, that we were no longer going to regulate how dancers moved throughout the IMU that weekend, which restrooms they used, etc. And, to no one’s shock, we still had a full ballroom at closing—dancers wanted to be there, we didn’t need to “hold them in!”

(Oh, and we more than doubled the toteboard…from $105K to $225K!)