The final dance countdown


The Daily Iowan

The total amount of money raised is reveled during the final hour of the Big Event in the Iowa Memorial Union on Feb. 7, 2015. The goal for Dance Marathon this year was two million dollars.This is Dance Marathon’s 21st Big Event at UI.

For members of the University of Iowa Dance Marathon organization, the days leading up to the Big Event are one big checklist.

Final dancer meetings, check. Excite dancers for the 24-hour dance-a-thon, check. Fanny packs, check.

UI Dance Marathon has raised more than $16.5 million since its inception. This year’s goal is for the organization to raise $2.4 million — the final check.

This week, participants are attending the last set of dancer meetings, in which dancers talk about what to expect for the Big Event on Feb. 5. For some, it will be the first time to participate in Dance Marathon, and those in leadership take the chance to offer some advice to dancers.

“The most important message for dancers to take away in the next week and a half is connecting all of the time spent fundraising to the kids and families so they feel motivated to go the extra inch,” said Emily Miller, the executive business director of Dance Marathon. “Everyone can make a difference, and [Dance Marathon] offers an amazing way to do this.”

Some tips are obvious. Miller and Evan Furlong, the public relations head for Dance Marathon, tell dancers to get as much sleep as they can prior to the 24-hour dance-a-thon.

Some aren’t so glamorous.

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Evan Chidley, a morale captain, tells her dancers to bring a toothbrush, wear their Dance Marathon shirts, bring the fanny pack given to all dancers at check-in, have chap stick to keep moisturized, and bring a change of shoes to give their feet a break.

Miller added having a countdown on the Dance Marathon website is another way the organization helps prepare and pump up the dancers before the Big Event. Before the countdown stops, morale captains prepare their dancers on what to expect from the event by making survival guides that include tips on what to bring, what to wear and what to expect.

“This year as a morale captain, I’m nervous to get all my dancers there and to see how the event goes,” she said.

On the Wednesday night before the Big Event, the leadership team will hear a send off message from Dance Marathon Executive Director Dan Kolb and will take a group photo to commemorate their hard work.

The leadership people look forward to spending their last few moments together before the IMU Main Lounge is filled with more than 2,000 dancers, Miller said.

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