Dance Marathon 9

Each year, students are tasked with raising the bar from previous years to carry out the mission of UI Dance Marathon and find new ways to strengthen and grow the organization. Dance Marathon 9 created a few new programs that helped spark growth throughout the year as well as at the Big Event, and our goal was to raise $600,000.

Those funds were utilized for new and improved programs which included funding a full-time music therapist at the UI Children’s Hospital and the purchase of Christmas gifts for children of our sponsored families.  The Family Relations committee even had a star named for one child who had asked for it. Seasonal family programming included the spring event at Planet X, the summer event at Adventureland, the fall costume party at the Iowa Children’s Museum and Coral Ridge ice rink, and the winter holiday party where kids decorated gingerbread houses, visited with Santa, and parents received gifts that their children had placed on their wish lists, prior to heading over to Carver Hawkeye Arena for an Iowa Women’s Basketball game.

Entertainment and fundraising combined forces that year with the inaugural Battle of the Bands, held in September to determine which local band would be invited to perform at the event in February, while also raising a little bit of cash for DM.  Four bands entered the competition held on campus – Echo, Blissfield, Thrice as Randy, and Glass Joe. Students put coins in large water cooler jugs to vote for their favorite bands. Instead of counting all the coins, the jugs were weighed to determine the winner.  The final vote was so close that both Blissfield and Echo were invited to the event.

Mini Dance Marathons also continued to grow in popularity.  Eleven schools across Iowa participated, and raised about $40,000 that year.  SE Polk High School in Des Moines set a Mini-DM record with their 12-hour event, raising $10,000!

But money doesn’t grow on trees, and if we were to continue raising even more money for our mission, we needed to get creative.  This was the year in which the ‘Dancer Incentive Program’ was formalized. This program was developed to incentivize and reward dancers to continue fundraising beyond their required dancer minimum. It included extra massages, extra trips to the Family and Mood Rooms, and the creation of the “Red Carpet Lounge” (a place where dancers could hang out for a while and watch tv/movies).  The ultimate incentive was the ability to take a shower during the event. These incentives made the biggest impact on 2nd and 3rd year dancers, as these students knew how wonderful a shower would feel midway through the Big Event.

During the event that year, we also featured several raffle and give-away items, including a combo TV/DVD player and a “lifetime supply” of jello!  One company had donated 1000 servings of jello to Dance Marathon. Much to our surprise, it arrived in powdered form. We turned powdered lemons in to lemon jello and added it to the raffle prize list!

Up to that point in UIDM, non-student visitors were able to stay in the Main Lounge for closing ceremonies to experience the culmination of that year’s effort. However, the were so many people in the IMU during closing, we unfortunately had to send many people (community members, friends, and family, etc.) to the second-floor ballroom to watch because they wouldn’t all fit in the main lounge.  

Every year prior, the closing ceremony was also very specific.  We let the dancers sit down, had a family tell one final story, played the dancer highlight video, brought all the families on stage, played the Dancing in our Hearts Video, and then, of course, raised the tote board.

For DM9, those specifics went out the window.  

During DM9, Student Video Productions (SVP) explained that they needed some extra time to finish editing the highlight video for the prior 24 hours. The Event Director, Erick Skogman, was on stage emceeing the closing ceremonies, while waiting for the signal from Andy Stoll, PR/Marketing Director, that the video was ready.  Andy was managing the audio/visual, sound/ lighting, and just about everything else from the back of the Main Lounge (we called him “slash” because there were so many slashes in his unofficial title!). Prior to going on stage, Erick had requested that the families come on stage at the beginning of the closing ceremony (about 30 minutes ahead of schedule) with the Dancing in our Hearts video to follow.  Andy approved. Erick then told the Family Relations Director, Mike Brooks, "I need to you to get all 500+ family members on stage in about 5 minutes and I have no idea how you're going to do it."  Mike barely skipped a beat, and said "We'll get it done".   When the families were done, Jenna Leathers’ family shared her story with all the dancers. Jenna had passed in 2000, and her family shared a very special bond with many of the seniors who had been freshman students at that time.

After the Leathers family spoke, we hoped the video was complete because there was nothing left to introduce or show.  However, Andy had given the dreaded signal that the video was not, in fact, done.  Erick was standing on stage with a microphone; an emotional, sleep deprived wreck with nowhere to hide.  Utilizing his previous experiences with Dance Marathon and his ability to think on his feet, he spoke to the dancers and families gathered there for a few minutes, and then decided on a whim that we would do the Morale Dance one more time.  The rest of the executive council had no idea why we were off schedule, and no else one knew that anything was amiss.  After that one last Morale Dance finished, Andy had given the thumbs up… yet still did not have the video in his hands!  While SVP had completed a wonderful video, they could not reach Andy because the Main Lounge was so packed with people.  A student had to literally throw the tape (yes, it was a VHS) to Andy, and he pressed play right as Erick was introducing the video.

Almost no one knew how chaotic things were behind the scenes.  It took a lot of people to make the closing ceremony a success.  Andy Stoll and SVP coordinated the video. Mike Brooks and the Family Relations Committee moved heaven and earth to get the families organized. The DJs had the Morale Song ready to go (even though we were not supposed to do the dance again).  And with a little bit of divine intervention, we used up every bit of stall-time we had left in order to create a most memorable closing ceremony. After the video had ended and students wiped away their tears, the Business Committee raised the tote board to show that we had met our goal, finally raising the number “6” at the beginning of the total number we would allocate toward the mission of UIDM.  

DM9: Where the heart leads, the feet will follow.

Morale Lyrics:

HEY YOU GUYS!!
(Ready)
Let's get down to business
Guess who's back, back again
DM's back, tell a friend
Everybody clap your hands 
(clap x7)
Holla back... woo-woo, Holla back... woo-woo
Check baby, check baby 1,2,3,4
Check baby, check baby 1,2,3
Gimme a break, gimme a break
Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar
Arms are for hugging, arms are for hugging
Awww it's good to be a HAWKEYE
E.T. phone home
Can you hear me now? can you hear me now?
2-0-0-3 this one's for the families
Hey Herky! (clapclap-clap)
Hey Herky! (clapclap-clap)
Swing your partner round and round
Gitty up, gitty up, let's sit down
PSYCHE!
Sports center (dnana, dnana)
Dancing just as fast as we can
Holding onto one another's hand
We are family
I got all my dancers with me
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!
Bend & Snap, Bend & Snap
Gimmie an "I", "I!" you got your "I", you got your "I"
Gimmie an "O", "O!" you got your "O", you got your "O"
Gimmie a "WA", "WA!" you got your "WA", you got your "WA"
Where the heart leads, the feet will follow
We're gonna get through this, we're gonna get through this
Because you can, can, can
'cause you can, can, can, can, can
Creating Tomorrow by Dancing Today
U of I DANCE MARATHON!!!