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SMC dance marathon wins national award

Mandi Stirone | Thursday, September 21, 2006

When 190 Saint Mary’s students sacrificed sleep last April 20 to benefit Riley’s Hospital for Children they had no idea what a difference they would make.

After months of planning and fundraising, the first annual dance marathon not only raised $21,047.42, but was also named Best New Marathon at the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference 2006, which was held in Cincinnati July 14-16.

In order to win the award, someone at the school or a peer school had to nominate the marathon, said Pauline Kistka, co-president of the dance marathon.

Competing against approximately 80 other schools, the Saint Mary’s dance marathon tied with Loras College in Iowa as the nation’s best new marathon.

The College dance marathon organizers were pleased with themselves and their fellow students, Kistka said, and proud to get Saint Mary’s recognized.

Riley’s Hospital for Children uses donations from nationwide dance marathons towards the care of children who cannot afford necessary medical care, making the College’s large donation great aid to their mission.

Co-president of the dance Marathon Francesca Johnson got the idea to start the dance marathon at Saint Mary’s after attending a similar event at Indiana University.

Kistka said she signed on to help out because she felt that it was a great cause – something the organizers witnessed first hand when they visited the hospital last year.

After winning the award, Johnson said she and Kistka gave themselves one weekend off before they began to plan this year’s event – with their achievements driving them to set an even higher level of success.

Unlike last year, marathon organizers will begin the planning process with a $500 grant from Board of Governance (BOG). They also plan to obtain corporate sponsors as additional support from BOG and other organizations at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame.

Several new committees have also been added, including a promotion committee whose main goal is to get the marathon’s message out.

“We want to really include students from Notre Dame and Holy Cross in the marathon and the planning process,” Kistka said.

Plans for additional advertising of the marathon include sending liaisons to the other colleges to spread the word. Already, some Saint Mary’s students who have transferred to Notre Dame have agreed to act as liaisons for the committee, she said.

This year’s marathon will be April 20, and the organizers have two major goals for improvement – increase the amount of money raised and the number of dancers.

Johnson said she hopes to have 300 dancers at the event. If every dancer who participated last year would bring just one friend, she said they would surpass their goal.

“It’s staying on your feet for twelve hours for kids who care,” Fundraising/Alumnae Relations chairwoman Sarah Voss said.