With online fundraisers, University of Iowa Dance Marathon raises $1.4 million ‘For the Kids’

Despite challenges of being all online, that didn’t stop Dance Marathon 27 participants from raising around $1.4 million for the kids


Tate Hildyard

Dance marathon Morale Captains dance alone in the Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday, February 27th, 2021. Due to the pandemic, the annual charity event which normally packs the entire building, has been converted to a digital live stream leaving the Iowa Memorial Union nearly empty. (Tate Hildyard/The Daily Iowan)

Drew Sullivan, News Reporter

After 24 hours of the organization’s first virtual “Big Event” — which included a car parade, 24 hours of virtual activities, and head shaving at a local salon — Dance Marathon 27 raised $1,422,443.27.

Participants were challenged with raising money in the midst of a global pandemic. Without being able to hold in-person events, the Dance Marathon organizers had to incorporate new fundraising techniques. 

Last year, the event raised $2,879,755.26. 

University of Iowa senior Mahliah Ingersoll has participated in Dance Marathon for the past four years. This year, Ingersoll was a Morale Captain on the recruitment and retention committee. Her main goals were to fundraise and get people to join the organization, she said.

Ingersoll said there were obstacles to fundraising in the middle of a pandemic. 

“I think the hardest challenge in fundraising was just asking people for money,” Ingersoll said. “People were already struggling and it was hard to ask people to feel generous and give up even more of that money”.

Ingersoll got creative. She sold crafts, collected pop cans, and had a community fundraiser at her hometown pizza place, she said.  Ingersoll said she’s proud of the resilience that Dance Marathon has shown during difficult times.

UI sophomore Majesty Constable also found unconventional ways to fundraise. She said she sent a message to all 400 of her Snapchat friends asking for donations. 

“Not only do you bring in a lot of donations, but people start to ask you ‘Oh what is Dance Marathon?’ ‘What am I donating to?’” Constable said. 

Constable’s old friend from high school donated $50 after hearing that the money supported children with cancer. Before the donation, she had no idea that her friend’s dad had died of cancer when he was a child.

“I know it might seem cheesy, but every single donation makes me so happy, and I literally started crying,” Constable said. “I think what people don’t understand is that when I say ‘thank you’ I genuinely mean it.”

Constable said her biggest motivation is the families that Dance Marathon sponsors. She said she thanks every sponsor with four exclamation points to show her genuine appreciation. 

Although Dance Marathon has taken on a new look this year, the kids still remain the heart of the cause. Dance Marathon Public Relations Chair Holly Smith said she also feels most inspired by the children who are undergoing treatment or have in the past.

“This is what we all do it for,” Smith said. “To see the smile on their faces and what joy we can bring them”

Smith said she wishes that first-time dancers were able to meet the children in person as they have in years past. Even though dancers were not able to visit the hospital, she said their energy levels were still though the roof.

“Dance Marathon is usually such a high-intensity high-energy event,” Smith said. “Obviously this year is different but I am impressed with how energetic and excited people still are and how memorable everyone still wants it to be”

“I am most proud of our mindset of the whole year and making it positive and being resilient,” Smith said.

“Rise with Resilience” was the theme of Dance Marathon 27. Smith added that cancer isn’t paused by the pandemic, and families still need the help that Dance Marathon provides. 

“I think that the resiliency that we’re reflecting is based off of our families because they have had to be so resilient through their cancer diagnosis,” Smith said. “The least we can do is try to be as resilient as they have been throughout their journey.”