The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Dance Marathon raises nearly $254,000 in donations for pediatric cancer

Dance Marathon’s 24-hour event Day to DM is the first fundraising push before the larger and main event in December.
Grace Smith
Members raise posters showing the final amount raised during the University of Iowa Dance Marathon’s “Day to Dance Marathon” Power Hour at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. The organization raised $253,695.30 during its 24-hour fundraising event.

The song “Livin’ on a Prayer” was one of many that rang through the Iowa Memorial Union’s international ballroom Tuesday night as students participated in the University of Iowa Dance Marathon’s Day to DM, raising roughly $254,000 in donations. 

The 24-hour fundraising event — starting at 9 p.m. on Monday and ending at 9 p.m. on Tuesday — allowed students and donors to raise money by coming together and dancing in remembrance of children who died from cancer and children still experiencing it. The event also hosted guest speakers of families who have or have lost a child to cancer. 

Dance Marathon is the largest student-led organization that focuses on raising money and spreading awareness for the children at the UI Hospital and Clinic’s Stead Family Hospital who are battling pediatric cancer. 

The organization has funded things, including 50 new apartments for families, music therapy assistants, pharmacy co-pays, and $15,000 in scholarships. 

This year, the event raised more money than it had in years before because of COVID-19. 

“I would say that it’s important so that we can continue to fund top-notch research so that we can get to one day where a parent doesn’t have to hear the words your child has cancer,” Rita Ordaz, Dance Marathon’s DEI Director, said.

In the hour before the event’s conclusion, which is the final push for the marathon called the Power Hour, the event raised $10,000 in 40 minutes. 

“Pediatric cancer research only gets 4 percent of federal funding, which is just not nearly enough for the amount of kids that are being diagnosed,” Haley Mudge, a member of the organization, said. “Your childhood is the most important part of your life, and so no one deserves to have that taken away from them.”

At 9 p.m., dancers and event members gathered in the middle to lock arms and sing along to “Don’t Stop Believing” for one last hurrah before the big reveal. 

RELATED: UI student runs Chicago Marathon to support Dance Marathon, honor her dad

“Remember why you’re here and who we’re here for,” Dance Marathon Finance Director Anna Bright said.

The crowd erupted in cheers and emotional embraces as the final total for the 24-hour event was revealed as $253,695.30.

“I’m feeling pretty grateful for our organization and for everyone who’s in here and all the work that they’ve done in everything we’re doing to make the dance successful,” Bright said in tears. “I think everyone that’s here is here because of their true passion, and everyone’s welcome. We’re always wanting people to come and join.”

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About the Contributors
Olivia Gamertsfelder
Olivia Gamertsfelder, News Reporter
Olivia is a freshman student from Washington D.C. double majoring in creative writing and journalism. She is a news reporter for the Daily Iowan. Prior to this, she directed her school's literary magazine and completed two theses (please ask her about them as she is very passionate).
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.