Letter to the Editor | A thank you note to Dance Marathon

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Dance Marathon was still able to raise a significant amount of money for the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.


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.

This past weekend, University of Iowa Dance Marathon students hosted a virtual Big Event to celebrate their year-long effort to raise money for pediatric cancer patients at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Approximately 1,000 students raised more than $1.4 million for patients and families — a remarkable feat in this year marked heavily by the pandemic.

I am in awe of the ambition and drive of these students. At a time when so much in their own lives has been upended, they still prioritized the needs of others above their own. However, I’m not surprised because this is part of Iowa’s culture. Hawkeyes give back.

We have a strong tradition of giving here at Iowa, and in my role as president and CEO of the UI Center for Advancement, I have the privilege of working with our many generous alumni and friends who want to give back to Iowa. I believe that generosity is sparked by groups such as Dance Marathon.

This year’s dance marathon theme, Rise with Resilience, speaks not only to our patients’ journeys, but also the focus with which our dancers have approached their year of fundraising. With great determination and resourcefulness, they overcame an extraordinary hurdle.

Now, they will make a significant impact on the thousands of families from our state and region who travel to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for treatment by our nationally recognized specialists.

Thanks to our students, families will be supported at every step of their journey. The money they raised goes to a variety of patient and family resources, medical supplies and more.

The group also is contributing — in a big way — toward a healthier future for Iowa’s children.

In its 27 years of existence, UI Dance Marathon has raised more than $30 million for UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

In 2018, UI Dance Marathon committed $2 million to establish a faculty chair position in the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, the first and only student group to ever do so at Iowa.

In 2017, the group donated $650,000 to help the hospital purchase an MRI scanner. In 2016, UI Dance Marathon gave more than $2 million to establish the UI Dance Marathon Pediatric Oncology Targeted Therapy Program, which helped the hospital begin to host clinical trials for pediatric cancer patients whose cancer has not responded to standard therapies. These are just a few examples of how students are helping Iowa build a world-class pediatric cancer program.

To this year’s dance marathon participants: I am so proud of the work you have done for our patients and families. Although we weren’t able to gather together at the IMU for this year’s Big Event, this milestone is no less significant. Your achievement this year will make a lasting impact in the lives of so many. Thank you for all you have done For The Kids!

—Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the UI Center for Advancement