The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC Dance Marathon receives award

Mandi Stirone | Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This past summer, Saint Mary’s College Dance Marathon received the “Incentive Award” from Children’s Miracle Network at the Children’s Miracle Network 2008 Dance Marathon Leadership Conference held in Orlando in July.

The Incentive Award is the highest national award which can be given to a Dance Marathon, according to a College press release.

“The Incentive Award is to recognize exceptional Dance Marathons that have broken the mold,” said Zac Johnson, national director of Dance Marathon in the press release. “Saint Mary’s College students have set the bar very high for campuses just starting the program. These young women re-imagined what can be accomplished in such a short time and serve as an example to other campuses.”

SMC-DM, a 12-hour marathon during which participants stay on their feet to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, was first held at Saint Mary’s in April 2006. The event raised $68,000 in its first two years combined. Last year, SMC-DM raised $85,296.33 for Riley Hospital.

It was named “Best New Marathon” during the 2006 Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference held in Cincinnati, an accolade which the SMC-DM received because it was nominated by someone at the College or a peer institution.

Colleges and universities cannot nominate themselves or another campus for the Incentive Award, though. Instead, both the local state hospital the marathon serves and Children’s Miracle Network needed to nominate Saint Mary’s, said senior Francesca Johnson, who founded and co-chaired SMC-DM with fellow senior Pauline Kistka from 2006-2008.

The College is sharing the award with the University of Florida, which has held Dance Marathons for 14 years and raises about $400,000 a year, the press release said.

Winning the Incentive Award “means that Saint Mary’s is now the national spokes model for Dance Marathon,” Johnson said.

When Zac Johnson presented the award to Saint Mary’s at the end of the conference, Johnson described it as “a phenomenal moment.”

This year, Johnson and Kistka stepped down as co-presidents to take on their new positions of overall fundraising chair and overall community chair, respectively.

Senior Sarah Voss took over the presidency. Voss said she has created a new system of organization. The new system spreads the work it takes to put together SMC-DM over several more committees than it did in the past.

Kistka described it as a “ripple effect.”

There is the cabinet which includes Voss, Johnson, and Kistka, along with Kelly Deranek, Overall Head of Public Relations, and Brittany Harrell, Overall Head of the Night of Committees, Voss said.

There will also be more room for younger committee members to work their way up, she said.