And the dance is on

Morale+Captains+celebrate+after+finding+out+the+amount+of+money+raised+during+the+final+moments+of+Dance+Marathon+in+the+IMU+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+7%2C+2015.+Dance+Marathon+raised+over+%242+million+for+kids+with+cancer.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FPeter+Kim%29

Morale Captains celebrate after finding out the amount of money raised during the final moments of Dance Marathon in the IMU on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. Dance Marathon raised over $2 million for kids with cancer. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

Cindy Garcia, [email protected]

 

After several months of fundraising, Dance Marathon participants will let off some steam in the 22nd-annual Big Event tonight.

In 2014, dancers raised more than $2 million for victims of pediatric cancer and their families. This year, neon green hearts are set on raising $2.4 million, a 20 percent jump from last year. Dancers have each raised $500 to reach this goal.

Dance Marathon Executive Director Dan Kolb said preparations for the Big Event are on track, and attendees have plenty to look forward to.

Entertainment includes an illusionist and a cappella groups, along with kiddo graduations, 19 of whom will graduate by being cancer-free for five years.

Kolb said more than 1,000 family members and more than 2,000 students are expected in the IMU, where the Big Event takes place.

He recommends dancers drink lots of water to stay awake during the marathon.

“Additionally, it’s very important to stay moving at all times. Time flies by a lot faster than you would expect,” he said. “Also, I want to encourage everyone to try to make it to all family speakers, as they truly will inspire you to stay awake and keep fighting throughout the night.”

UI senior Sarah Rodriguez, a Dance Marathon morale captain who has been with the organization through four years of college, said several tweaks in policies to attract funding and new dancers have taken place. These include FTK Day and $100 Day, which raised more than $135,000 this year.

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“We are always searching for new ways to help Dance Marathon grow because the more we continue to grow, the more support we can offer our families,” she said.

The mission of Dance Marathon has stayed the same, and Rodriguez said this year has been the most special yet because she has been more involved with the organization.

Through Mini Dance Marathons and hospital visits, she has also been able to spread her enthusiasm.

“It was my goal throughout the year to share with my dancers my experiences with Dance Marathon and allow them to see the difference they can make by being involved in this organization,” she said.

Jackie Wolfe, the Dancer Relations head, will also celebrate her fourth and final Big Event as a UI student.

She said a fear of missing out will be the only thing she needs to stay awake during the 24-hour marathon.

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