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 over $1.4 million

Dance Marathon wrapped up its 24-hour Big Event with a reveal in the Iowa Memorial Union of its total fundraising.
Emily Nyberg
Final fundraising numbers are raised during the University of Iowa’s 30th Dance Marathon at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Dancers raised $1,454,929.30 for the Stead Family Childrens Hospital. (Emily Nyberg/The Daily Iowan)

University of Iowa Dance Marathon raised over $1.4 million to end its 30th anniversary Big Event on Saturday night.

The Big Event consists of a 24-hour dance party — starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and ending at 7 p.m. on Saturday — in the Iowa Memorial Union with blaring music and colorful lights. The IMU was packed with Dance Marathon participants on Saturday night as a crowd waited to see the big reveal of the total money raised.

To participate in the Big Event, students were challenged to raise a minimum of $300 for entry to the Big Event. According to a fundraising packet from Dance Marathon 26, the donations from the event go to research, family support, projects at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, and operating funds.

The student organization has been on campus since 1994 and has raised over $34 million in partnership with Children’s Miracle Network. The $1.4 million raised this year is an increase over the amount raised last year, which was $1.1 million.

The money goes to supporting children who have cancer and who have survived cancer, and families who have lost a child to cancer.

UI fourth-year student Madi Smith has participated in Dance Marathon all four years of her time at the UI and said everything she’s learned from her experience has carried over into other areas of her life.

“You have the power to do something really impactful no matter what role you have,” Smith said. “You could not choose a better organization.”


Participants get involved during the 24-hour event with activities, such as a haircut and donation station, a cancer “graduation” for children who are in five-year remission to celebrate the end of their journeys with cancer, and various crafts like coloring sheets and decorating picture frames set up to entertain all the little kids in attendance.

“When I went to my first Hawkeye football game is when I really understood what Dance Marathon was because of the wave,” Alyssa Ackerman, a UI fourth-year Dance Marathon captain said. “From that, I decided to jump headfirst into it my freshman year.”

Leading up to the reveal, families stood on stage and spoke about their children’s journeys with cancer and shared their stories of grief, but also of hope. A video was shown at the end to memorialize all the children who faced cancer and have died.

After the fundraising number was revealed, families and all Dance Marathon participants circled a candle that was burning for the entirety of the event to celebrate together and honor all those who died from cancer.

Joanne Havel has been attending Dance Marathon for 19 years since her granddaughter died at 8 years old.

“I want to support others and to support ourselves so she’s not forgotten,” Havel said. “I hope the love keeps going as well as the help for others.”

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About the Contributors
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.