Dance Marathon 26 raises $2.8 million ‘For the Kids’

After 24-hours of dancing for the kids, the final tote board reveals that $2,879,755.26 has been raised for pediatric cancer.


Katie Goodale

The final total is shown during Dance Marathon 26 in the IMU on Feb. 8.

Rin Swann, News Reporter

After 24-hours without caffeine, sleeping, or the comfort of a chair, participants in the 26th University of Iowa Dance Marathon screamed and cried as the final tote board revealed that Dance Marathon had raised over $2,879,755.26 for pediatric cancer. 

Over 2,500 dancers, 300 leadership members, 600 volunteers, and 950 involved families crowded together in the Iowa Memorial Union for the 26th year in a row. Participants chanted, danced, fundraised, celebrated, and commemorated those enduring the fight for pediatric cancer. 

The final tote board is the culmination of 365 days of fundraising and marks the end of the 26th Big Event. The evening’s total is less than last year’s $2,960,403.25, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.

“We fight for more smiles,” UI Dance Marathon Finance Director Dan Rafferty said. “We fight for more birthdays. We fight together. That’s what this year has been about and you have shown what that means every step of the way. Everyone person in this room has made this all possible… a single number will never measure the amount of miracles we made because it’s about the hope and opportunities this creates.”

The UI Dance Marathon is nationally recognized as the third largest organization in the country and the largest west of the Mississippi River. The organization kickstarted in 1994 and raised $31,000 in its inaugural year. 

Every dancer has given over $500 to participate and leadership members gave $1,000. Other fundraising came from social media fundraising completed by participants and donations from supporters. 

RELATED: Dance Marathon participants are ‘re-energized’ as they reach the halfway point

“Fundraising is the main part of this organization because we donate all of the money that we raise to the children’s hospital,” said UI sophomore Adriana Littlegeorge. “Which provides a lot of stuff, such as parking passes for them if they’re in the hospital. If their child is inpatient we provide gift cards for their parents to go out to get instead of always having cafeteria food. So it’s just our main source of giving to the Children’s Hospital.”

Major events throughout the Big Event included an interactive dance hour, live performances by Natascha Myers, Nick Thomas, and Kazual, a Lip Sync Battle, an awards ceremony for the highest fundraisers, a kiddo graduation for children five years cancer-free, the Power Hour, and the “Dancing in Our Hearts” video — which honors children who have passed away due to cancer. 

UI Dance Marathon officials described this year’s campaign, “We Fight Together,” as an ode to how the organization can help battle pediatric cancer. 

RELATED: Kiddo talent show rocks the main ballroom

“Everyone has a part to play in what we do in supporting these families,” said Gabrielle Wahe, a sophomore Morale Captain. “We want to make sure we fight as hard as the kids do and we do it all at once, together, until the very end.”