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Dance marathon raises over $85,000

Liz Harter | Monday, April 7, 2008

After staying on their feet for 12 hours in support of children who can’t at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, students from Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross College were rewarded with the news that the event raised over $85,000.

The money raised at the event, which ran from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday, will go to the hospital, which never denies care to a patient, receives no state funding and is entirely dependent on corporate and private donations.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought we would have raised that much money,” Dance Marathon co-president Francesca Johnson said.

Proceeds from the Dance Marathon, which is in its third year at the College, has grown each year. Organizers more than doubled their first year total in 2007, raising over $47,000 while becoming the third biggest marathon in the state of Indiana.

This year, the event raised $85,296.33, beating the total raised at Purdue University by about $10,000 to become the second biggest marathon behind Indiana University. Indiana has hosted a dance marathon for the past 18 years.

“I don’t think any of us expected it,” Dance Marathon public relations chair Kelly Deranek said. “We hoped and worked hard to do so, but beating [Purdue] by so much, I don’t think any of us could have expected that. It was a complete shock.”

The 378 participants were entertained by local band the Super Soul Fighters and the Saint Mary’s cheerleaders. They also kept busy playing improvised games of volleyball and basketball and sticking themselves to a giant Velcro wall.

The morale committee also kept participants energized by teaching them a “morale dance” choreographed to music relating to the themed hours throughout the evening. The group then performed the dance in its entirety at the end of the 12 hours.

“At 8 a.m., we still had a crowd dancing with as much energy as they had when they had first arrived,” Dance Marathon co-president Pauline Kistka said. “It was truly amazing and everyone fed off each other’s energy and spirit.”

Families who have personally benefited from Riley Hospital also shared their stories throughout the night, including Robert Campbell, a freshman at Indiana University South Bend.

Campbell suffered from a spinal stroke in 2005 and became a quadriplegic. After visiting Riley Hospital he managed to regain use of his limbs and moved from a wheelchair to a walker to a quad cane to a collapsible cane, what he uses now.

He said he didn’t plan to tell his story Friday night and was visiting the marathon to drop his off younger brother to see the Super Soul Fighters, but remembered the kids he helped at Riley by telling his story and wanted to let participants know that standing for 12 hours really does make a difference.

“I looked at all the signs and everything that this stood for and I decided to just go for it,” Campbell said.

Organizers are taking a few weeks to reenergize after the event, but they will discuss ideas on how to improve the Dance Marathon next year at the executive council meeting next week, Johnson said.

“In the future, we hope to get more of Notre Dame and Holy Cross involved not only as dancers but as part of the planning committee throughout the year,” she said. “We really want to make it a huge tri-campus organization with passionate students from all three schools working to make a difference in the lives of children.”