Year: 1999
Amount Raised: $354,064.08

Dance Marathon was entering its fifth year, and we continued to mature as an organization - what had started as very successful student organization supported heavily by the Greek system, had grown into an organization with campus-wide support that had netted over $225k the preceding year.

While we were happy with our successes, we still needed to spread the word about DM. We attended many meetings across campus - from Greek houses to residence halls to other student organizations - to support dancer recruitment. And we had to work hard to retain those dancers and get them to raise a couple hundred dollars. Many people still weren't sure what to make of this ever growing organization, but our network of supporters across campus had helped us build into one of the largest Children's Miracle Network marathons in the country.

This explosive growth understandably drew greater scrutiny from university leaders and led to some difficult discussions. Administrators needed to place greater controls on the activities of the organization. Some of these - such as financial controls - were understandable. It probably wasn't wise to house overflowing canning jars in IMU desks with flimsy locks.  

Most notably, this was the year we changed how we distributed funding. In years past, families were able to apply for grants directly from DM to cover their expenses - hotels, transportation, and even household expenses. Many students wanted dollars to directly support sponsored families. University administration pressed the organization to alter its giving profile. As a result, DM moved away from direct family grants, but this enabled the organization to begin funding programs like family kits distributed at UIHC, which included gas cards and meal vouchers. While this funding shift was difficult at the time, in retrospect it is easy to understand why it was needed. Our student organization needed to grow up.

And grow up we did! Our net total that year of just over $354,000, was an increase of over fifty percent from the previous year. This was the result of many months of hard work by teams of people and involved dancing in mall windows, participating in radio-thons, and holding many, many canning drives. All of this was spurred by our commitment to the wonderful families who were a part of DM. Everyone built strong bonds with these DM families, and the kids made sure to motivate the many hours of dancing.