Guest Opinion: Why Dance Marathon is overrated

UI student Kyle Scheer writes about his personal experience with UI Dance Marathon and how the Big Event changed his outlook on its purpose.


Grace Colton

Participants dance during Dance Marathon 25 at the Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday February 2, 2019

As a junior at the University of Iowa, Dance Marathon 25 was my first such experience. If someone asked my reason for joining Dance Marathon 25 this year, the answer would be simple: I wanted to attend the Big Event to cross it off my college bucket list. I didn’t go to meetings. I didn’t go to events. I raised my $500, showed up at the IMU on Friday night for the Big Event, and attended.

Coming into the event, I thought that Dance Marathon was the student organization that college kids with wealthy families and friends joined so they could feel as if they were making some sort of positive difference. I thought Dance Marathon’s sole goal was to raise as much money as possible, and #FTK was simply a marketing strategy to achieve that goal. Don’t get me wrong — I had an understanding of the value that the funding provided and a grasp on the challenges that faces those families dealing with pediatric cancer, but only by attending the event did I truly understand the impact the group has.

When listening to the kiddos and parents at the event, it was clear that although the monetary support the organization provided was valuable, the biggest things were the friendship, support, and empowerment that it provides for those kiddos and their families.

Not only did my perspective change on what Dance Marathon is, but it changed my perspective on what the group will be. I learned about initiatives that Dance Marathon is pursuing to be more inclusive through its diversity and inclusion efforts, reduce its environmental impact through sustainability efforts, and expanding its impact through campus outreach.

If I could wind back the clock and do my college career again, I would have shaped my impact for my first UIDM by truly diving into the experience for the kids, rather than my own selfish reasons. This means attending the events and meetings prior to the Big Event, putting more effort into fundraising, and researching the group beforehand so I had a more accurate understanding of what it is all about.

So, to answer the question “Why Dance Marathon is Overrated,” the simple answer is that it isn’t. But don’t take my word for it. Sign up for Dance Marathon 26 yourself, go into it #FTK, and see what UI Dance Marathon is truly all about.

—Kyle Scheer

UI student

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