Guest Opinion: Giving back changes lives

Executive director of Dance Marathon Charlie Ellis writes on the importance of philanthropy.


Alyson Kuennen

Dancers celebrate reaching $2,960,403.25 during Dance Marathon 25 at the Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday, February 2, 2019.

A desire to change lives. This is an internal motivation that has driven me for several years but flourished through my involvement with the University of Iowa Dance Marathon. The student-led organization operates with the mission of creating and sustaining special projects for pediatric oncology and bone-marrow-transplant patients and their families at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. UI Dance Marathon is based on changing lives — an embodiment of philanthropy. 

This past year, I had the absolute honor of serving as executive director of the 25th anniversary of Dance Marathon at the UI. Through this position, I had the opportunity to learn about the importance of philanthropy. While working with countless donors who gave to our organization, my eyes were opened by the number of individuals necessary to affect so many here. The kiddos at our hospital deserve every ounce of support, and our donors are the ones who make all of the support possible.

Outside of those we support, every person at the UI is also affected by philanthropy. Thanks to the donors who give to all sectors of the institution, all of us reap the benefits from their philanthropy. As a student, I have realized how important it is to receive support — and to also give back. When appropriate, I will give back to our community to ensure that this institution can not only continue to function as it is currently but so that Iowa can grow and be even more effective.

Most people reading this have been affected by philanthropy in some way, and I encourage you all to find a way to further your involvement. The UI has produced countless success stories, and many of these can be traced to private support. My work through Dance Marathon and the rest of the UI has taught me so much, and I am excited to see how philanthropy can progress in years to come.

Charlie Ellis

Executive Director Dance Marathon 25

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