Dance Marathon, is a 24-hour, standing-only event to raise money for Children’s Mercy Network Hospital. Students, faculty and participants gather together to support and raise awareness for the children and their families. Through providing a day and night full of dancing, games and various shows, everyone pulls together and builds community.
Gaining insight, encouragement and inspiration, Dance Marathon’s planning started in early July. A few executive members attended the 2019 Dance Marathon Leadership Conference — a national conference held during the month of July in St. Louis, Missouri.
Director Caitlyn Schwiefert said, “DMLC is always something that helps us plan for the year and gives us the chance to look at the program we have and build on it. This year we took away more than we would have ever thought.”
This year, the executive team learned about how other schools build their participants, how to build relationships with other schools for mini marathons, how to better engage on campus and how to further network to other schools.
“I loved getting to talk to students in other programs because every Dance Marathon is different,” Samantha Ernst, assistant director of planning, said. “Some are 12 hours long, some happen over the course of three days, some are in the fall and some like ours are in the spring. We used the information we gained from this conference to focus on getting our participants more involved outside of just the weekend in May.”
Throughout the year, several mini events occur to raise money, awareness and participation throughout campus.
The previous fall, Assistant Director of Finance, Garett Kudiza and his core committee planned the Benefit Dinner. The Benefit Dinner was a semi-formal fundraising event including guest speakers, raffle baskets and testimonies from miracle families. Raising a total of $26,000 in this event, the committee was responsible for partnering with businesses and getting them to sponsor. Throughout the year, Falcon Miracle participants find many ways to fundraise.
“We also hold smaller fundraisers such as downtown events, bake sales, merch sales, etc.,” Ernst said. “We also allow people to do door to door cannings. And we do a lot of 50/50 throughout the year at different sporting events. We have mini marathon events where we engage with our local high schools and elementary schools to do fundraisers such as mini dance marathon events, penny wars, and event dress down days for donation.”
From selling hot cocoa in the oval, to teddy bear tosses at hockey games, choreographing dances and chalking around campus to spread the word, this year's dance morale captains for Falcon Miracles have been busy being a part of fundraising efforts.
Morale captains are leaders within Falcon Miracles that keep participants engaged and excited throughout not only the dance marathon but the entire year. They assist in spreading the word around campus and registering students as participants. Dance marathon students are broken down into teams where morale captains then encourage them and help with fundraising.
“This organization means more to me than I can put into words,” Morale Captain Tori Pasquarette said. “The mission of this organization is one I hold close to my heart. To me, it means stepping outside of myself and giving back to the most deserving people I know.”
Participants can register for Dance Marathon individually and be placed on the individual colors team or as groups. Many organizations throughout campus decide to participate, fundraise and celebrate together. Groups collectively think of a number to raise and then aim for that number throughout the entire school year. The leading organization this year was panhellenic sorority Pi Beta Phi who were able to raise over $5,000.
Sorority member Bailee Pihlblad said, “Falcon Miracles has always been a huge part of Pi Phi. We all love raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network and it allows us to spend more time together. Our chapter loves supporting other philanthropies, so this is another way we are able to do that. We all fundraise separately but we join a team together and set a goal to raise a certain amount of money each year. We always try to reach this goal by the time of the event.”
Falcon Miracles gives students and faculty the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves while giving back to the children. “It’s the ability to make these children’s lives better and to give them a happy and healthy childhood. It’s the chance to help their families. Falcon Miracles means being for the kids 110% of the time,” Dance Morale Captain Hallie Cunningham said.