Dance Marathon 26 kicks off ‘For The Kids’

University of Iowa Dance Marathon held their opening ceremony on Friday night encouraging dancers to keep their energy up over their 24-hour Big Event.

University+of+Iowa+President+Bruce+Herald+speaks+at+Dance+Marathon+in+the+IMU+on+Friday%2C+February+7%2C+2020.+Herald+encouraged+the+the+students+to+stay+strong+for+the+kids+and+stay+hydrated.+%28Hayden+Froehlich%2FThe+Daily+Iowan.%29

University of Iowa President Bruce Herald speaks at Dance Marathon in the IMU on Friday, February 7, 2020. Herald encouraged the the students to stay strong for the kids and stay hydrated. (Hayden Froehlich/The Daily Iowan.)

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The Iowa Memorial Union has officially come alive in color and motion for the University of Iowa’s 26th annual Dance Marathon event.

Around 180 dancers participated at the first UI Dance Marathon in 1995, said UI Dean of Students Angie Reams. Now, over 2,800 dancers are participating in the Big Event in an effort to raise money “For the Kids.”

Thomas Arce, UI multicultural and international student support and engagement coordinator, kicked off the opening ceremony with a land acknowledgement. This acknowledgement, he said, was integral to the inclusion aspects of the organization. 

The 26th Dance Marathon has been an event long in the making, said UI Dance Marathon operations committee member Hayley Daloia. 

“[The committee] does all the behind the scenes things that make the Big Event function,” she said. “I think being a part of leadership in [Dance Marathon] is such a unique experience because you get to see it in a different light. I’m so excited for my second Big Event. It’s also exciting to see the first time dancers experience it all for the first time.”

Sporting her neon green shirt, dancer Susan Anil said she was thrilled to join Dance Marathon when she became a Hawkeye. 

“I am super excited to be at Dance Marathon,” she said. “We have all put in a lot of hard work… One of the big ways I got donations was from canning in my neighborhood in Bettendorf, Iowa. All that has accumulated to this and I can’t wait.”

Earlier this semester, the organization raised $602,516.93 in one day to donate to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Last year’s total amount raised equaled $2,960,403.25 — the second highest amount raised by UI Dance Marathon in the last quarter century. 

This week, iHeartRadio completed a radiothon at the hospital for the 14th year in a row to raise money and help UI Dance Marathon. On Friday night, the company donated $127,169 to UI Dance Marathon to help the organization increase the total money they will donate this academic year. 

UI President Bruce Harreld stopped by the opening ceremonies to thank students for their hard work and leadership when it came to everything before the Big Event. Harreld also reminded students to have fun and stay hydrated, but encouraged them to remember who they are dancing for.  

“We talk a lot about the numbers,” he said. “But, this truly is about the kids. For all the names along the wall and those that are not here, all the families [that are] struggling. What you’re doing in the next 24 hours and around the year, is making a true difference in their life.”

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