Live updates | Dance Marathon 28 graduates 14 kids

The 28th annual Dance Marathon is live-streaming its virtual events for 24 hours. Check back for live updates.


Gabby Drees

Participants dance during Dance Marathon at the Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. The fundraiser was held virtually with limited in-person participants.

Saturday, 3:25 p.m. – University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon 28 is pushing into its final hours of the annual ‘Big Event’ with Kiddo Graduation.

The Kiddo Graduation commemorates kids who have been off of cancer treatment for five years, Megan Wadle, Dance Marathon hospital director, said.

“For the graduates and their families, this is one of the most special times of their lives,” she said. “Each of these heroic children are now officially five years off treatment.”

Wadle and Brylee Yirkovsky, family liaison director, introduced the 14 graduates.

David Dickens, UI Dance Marathon Chair in Pediatric Oncology, said in his speech to the graduates that while cancer may have changed the graduates’ lives forever, they now have more freedom.

“That means you have certain freedoms, freedom from taking medications that make you feel sick, freedom from being in the hospital when you would rather be anywhere else, and freedom from having restrictions placed on you while you are healing,” he said.

Class speaker, Mikayla Onken, 22, who was diagnosed on Feb. 8, 2013, and underwent two and a half years of chemotherapy, said she dedicates her speech to the friends she made throughout her cancer treatment that didn’t make it to survivorship.

“The friends and family I met on three JCP constantly reminded me of what the word strong meant,” Onken said. “Even though some of my friends never made it to the survivorship stage of their cancer journey. They continue to evolve in my heart. These friends of mine are incredibly resilient, courageous, and heroic. Cancer is a horrendous thing to undergo, but the friendships created through the journey are one of the many silver linings.”

Saturday, 2:45 p.m. – Dance Marathon Mini Co-chairs Brigette Dakovich and Molly Klutts took the stage to present a short video of mini marathons taking place across the state of Iowa. The two expressed gratitude for the donations.

The events took place at K-12 schools across the state of Iowa, and raised a total of $77,994.13.

“Thank you to all who participated,” Dakovich said.  “… It was because of you we were able to raise over $77,000.” 

The total amount of money raised from Dance Marathon 28 will be announced at 7:00 tonight.

Dance Marathon leaders hold up signs revealing the total raised through Mini Dance Marathons in K-12 schools. (Photo via Dance Marathon livestream)

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. — The University of Iowa’s Fraternity and Sorority Life raised $110,792.89 for UI Dance Marathon 28. 

Paige Kamin, Dance Marathon’s Campus Relations Director, announced Fraternity and Sorority Life’s tote during the second half of Dance Marathon 28.

“I see how hard this community works at their job. Not only does this community have their own philanthropy, but they have dedicated so much time to Dance Marathon with their fundraising and their engagement efforts and I just think it is so impressive,” Kamin said. 

Kamins, a member of Greek life herself, excitedly announced the Fraternity and Sorority Life tote and praised the group’s long affiliation with Dance Marathon. 

“Thank you so much FSL for all you do for the Dance Marathon, for our families. We are so proud to be so closely aligned with you,” University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon Anna Dodge said. 

Saturday, 10 a.m. – University of Iowan’s Dance Marathon 28 is over halfway done with its annual 24-hour long Big Event. The event opened on Friday at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to reveal the final tote board amount on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“It’s been really wonderful to be back here to have more people be able to celebrate with us then than last year in our virtual event,” UI Dance Marathon Executive Director, Anna Dodge said to an interview with The Daily Iowan on Saturday morning.

Dance Marathon 28 moved the Big Event to a digital format because of the surge in COVID-19 omicron cases.

Dodge said even though the Big Event is on digital platforms, participation still holds high energy.

“We’ve been able to hear from so many family speakers, have so many fun times together, have different entertainment acts and things like that,” Dodge said. “It’s been really wonderful so far.”

The UI Dance Marathon rented the Iowa Memorial Union to host the event and decked out the Main Ballroom for the occasion, Dodge said.

“Our main ballroom, which is where our live stream is taking place has been really decked out which is exciting,” Dodge said. “We’ve got pillowcases, up on the wall and we get each of our families that pillowcase every single year with their child’s name on it, and we paint their interests and are the theme for the year.”

Although the event is majority on digital platforms, some UI Dance Marathon leaders are in person at Iowa Memorial Union.

“We’ve got people all throughout the IMU,” Dodge said. “So while people are coming in and out they’re not all in the same place and throughout the whole building.”

This year, Dance Marathon 28 implemented remote activities via Zoom to engage virtual participants in the Big Event. Dodge said there are more activity options than last year’s virtual event.

“We thought that these remote activities would add a really cool different layer to what we’re already doing. And have people be able to still participate but in a way that fits their needs better,” Dodge said.

Dodge said she hopes everyone can finish this event knowing they did their best.

“My hopes are that everyone can be done with this event and leave this event knowing that they have done absolutely everything that they can,” she said.

Friday, 11:05 p.m. – Members from Dance Marathon 28 fundraised money by running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, called Dance Marathon the Marathon, in October 2021. The organization revealed that they raised $139,657 from the race on Friday evening.

Dance Marathon said it raised $139,657 from runners in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last October on Feb. 4, 2022. (Photo via Dance Marathon livestream)

Brooke Lucas, UI Dance Marathon development director said she, with the help of the two Dance Marathon the Marathon chairs Delaney Kilburg and Sydney Fuller, trained the participants.

“I had the privilege of recruiting and training over 65 students, alumni, faculty, and family members to run the Bank of America Chicago marathon while representing the families and mission of the University of Iowa Dance Marathon,” she said.

According to a press release by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the 26.2 mile run was held on Oct. 10, 2021. The marathon hosted over 35,000 participants.

Lucas said that every runner representing Dance Marathon raised a minimum of $1,250.

“I could not be more proud of this group of individuals and I am so excited to share that our runners raised a total of $139,000 all for endless hope for families,” she said.

Friday, 7 p.m. – University of Iowa’s 28th annual Dance Marathon kicked off the annual “Big Event,” a 24-hour virtual danceathon, with a burst of messages from UI campus and Dance Marathon leaders.

Abigail Buffalo, a UI third-year student, opened the event with a land acknowledgment. She said Dance Marathon hopes to promote the historical understanding of the genocide and injustice that took place against indigenous peoples.

Dance Marathon Executive Director Anna Dodge followed with a ‘thank you’ to participants.

Dance Marathon Executive Director Anna Dodge hosts the virtual Dance Marathon 28 from the Iowa Memorial Union on Feb. 4, 2022. (Photo via Dance Marathon livestream)

“Dance Marathon is so successful because of you and because of all of the partners and families that we have,” she said.

Dodge introduced Dance Marathon partners who worked closely with the organization this year, starting with UI President Barbra Wilson.

Wilson congratulated Dance Marathon in a pre-recorded video message to the organization.

“Your incredible support is so important to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, our patients, and their families and it is truly inspiring to the whole campus,” Wilson said. “As our largest student organization, you show all of us how we can commit ourselves to others and share our talents with heart and with enthusiasm.”

After words from UI’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Life, Chair of Stead Family Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics, and Interim Division Director for Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Dodge presented the first check presentation of the event from the UI Center for Advancement for the Call for Kids with Cancer Radiothon.

“Thank you so much to the Call for Kids Radiothon,” Dodge said. “That is an incredible check of $149,000 from our partners at UICA and the radio hosts.”

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