A Few of My Favorite Big Event Things


It is already the best time of the year again! We are officially less than two weeks away from the 25th anniversary of the UIDM Big Event. During my first year of Dance Marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Big Event. Although I was excited to attend what so many people had told me was a “life-changing experience,” I didn’t exactly know what that entailed. All I knew before my first Big Event was that it was 24 hours without caffeine, sitting, or sleeping; I was understandably worried.

In order to get you excited about the most impactful 24 hours and hopefully get rid of any last minute jitters, we asked some UIDM alumni their thoughts on the Big Event.

Alex Duster, from the Family Relations Committee, told a story from his first Big Event. “At about the halfway point through the 24 hours, I was introduced to a mom whose son had battled cancer when he was 5 years old. We talked for a while, chatting about my life, her family’s life, and her son’s experience. She couldn’t say enough about how much DM helped her family’s journey. When I joined DM, I assumed that the biggest impact came from the millions of dollars raised and the many programs that money supported. The more I listened to the mom talk, the more I realized that it is not the money that makes DM great, it’s the people. Toward the end of our conversation, she told me, ‘My son would not be alive today if it wasn’t for you.’ I had never met this mother, and I had never met her son. She wasn’t talking about money. She was talking about me, and the thousands of dancers who sent her son cards, attended family events, and volunteered hundreds of hours at the hospital.”

Serving on the Public Relations Committee, Colleen Durkin said that her favorite parts about Dance Marathon were donating hair on stage next to one of her best friends, watching her kiddo from DM23 graduate, and standing alongside her committee as we broke $3,000,000.

Delaney Schneider (Family Relations Committee) said, “My first power hour during DM21 was crazy! I felt so energized and excited and I was dancing like crazy. At the end I figured each year it would get easier to make it through the final hour of dancing. I wasn’t wrong but I wasn’t right either. It was always tiring but every year I found more reasons to dance, jump around and sing for literally sixty straight minutes. My final power hour during DM24 was bittersweet. I really left it all out there and danced my heart out. I got super sweaty, but this time I wasn’t tired. I was proud and I was stunned. The tote board said $3 million. There wasn’t time to be tired. I jumped right up and celebrated that number and everything $3 million would do to help those kiddos.”

Kat Fey, the Creative Director from DM24, said that her favorite part of the Big Event was crowd surfing during power hour. 

A chair on the Business Committee, Adam Dudzinski, gave some advice to first year dancers, saying to make sure you are at kiddo graduation, which is when all the kids that are five years cancer-free get to graduate on the main stage. Adam also suggests to keep yourself busy by trying new activities around the IMU and watching the performers on the main stage. Finally, “Have fun, and don’t be shy; the kiddos love that you are there, so enjoy yourself!”

Finally, Executive Director of DM24, Alex Linden, said, “First and foremost, I danced. If there is ever a time to move your body like nobody’s watching, it’s the Big Event. If there is a dance move you’ve been too shy to try, now is the time. Energetic, crazy dance moves give life to the ballroom, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be featured in the highlight video! After all, it’s DANCE Marathon.

“I listened. Every hour, a family courageously shares their most difficult stories. These stories put every meeting, dollar raised, and hour on your feet into context. As a young student, you’ve made a huge impact, and you should wrap up your time with Dance Marathon remembering just that.

“Finally, I immersed myself in everything. The emotions, the activities, the food, and the music. Whether it’s your first or fourth, there is an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Though you may be in a room full of strangers, all of you are participating in something bigger than yourselves. If you let it, the Big Event will change you!”

The 24 hours of the Big Event are some of the most physically and emotionally taxing hours I’ve ever been through, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I am so incredibly excited for each and every dancer, leadership member, volunteer, family, and kiddo to define what the Big Event means to them and experience magic in their own way.

By: Grace Tencer, DM 25 PR Committee