Looking back on UI Dance Marathon 24 and breaking $3 mil in donations FTK

‘The kiddos are the reason why we strive to raise so much money and it’s inspiring to meet them and hear their stories. They’re our heroes.’

Every year, members of UI Dance Marathon spends the school year raising money for local children battling sickness and celebrate the fundraising with a Big Event. All dancers were required to raise $500 to participate in the event, while leadership had to raise $1,000.

This year was the biggest year for UI Dance Marathon, making history by becoming the second school to raise more than $3 million in donations for the kids.

We talked to some of the dancers and those in leadership positions for Dance Marathon 24 about what being a part of this organization means to them. These stories will warm your hearts.

Executive Director Alex Linden

It was an indescribable feeling to find out that we had hit $3 million. I found out a couple hours before the reveal, so I had to pull myself together for the remaining hours and put on a poker face.

After this year, and all the hard work everyone put in, our people deserved to have that celebration.

There are so many ways to interpret the number. The second school of all time to do it, the highest at UIDM, or a huge increase from the previous year. To me though, I am just so excited to see what those dollars will translate to. After playing a part in two large funding projects this year, I know just how important this number is to furthering medicine at the hospital.

I know exactly what went into every little detail of this event and the whole year, so to see all the hard work come to life was just amazing.

I will definitely never forget those 24 hours (42 hours for me).

To everyone, whether they danced, donated or cheered us on, thank you!

Image may contain: Performer, Clown, Person, People, Human

Creative Director Kat Fey

The entire year we just went out trying to five it all we've got. We surround each other with positive vibes and we were content with just giving it our very best.

When we realized we had surpassed $3 million, I literally broke down in uncontrollable tears.

I think the whole, what the marathon means to me, hit me really hard during our family walk-in that happens at the beginning of the main event. I was lining the walkway and I saw a little girl, who I had volunteered with up on the 11th floor of our hospital, walk up to me.

Her smile was radiant and she ran up to give me a hug. She was having the time of her life and we, as Dance Marathon, were able to provide that for her. My heart had never felt so full and warm.

This organization is so special because, as you help change the lives of others, you ultimately end up changing yours as well.

I couldn't think of a better way to end my time at Iowa than to raise $3 million for the bravest kiddos I've ever seen.

Image may contain: Night Life, Night Club, Club, Music, Leisure Activities

Sponsorship Director Hayden Becelacqua

When I saw that three before any of the other numbers, I broke down knowing that we did it. Not only did we increase, which is the hope every year, but we hit a significant number that we all knew would make such a positive impact on the children and families we support.

We didn't set a public goal this year, but that three was always in the back of our minds. We knew that if we gave it our all, it was possible to hit.

Seeing that three was the icing on the cake of a year filled with so much good. It just make Dance Marathon 24 that much sweeter.

That number this year truly could not have been possible without many different efforts. Our dancers, our leadership team, the community, our university– those are just a few.

We cannot thank everyone enough who took part in Dance Marathon 24 and stayed motivated to do more than we could've ever asked all year long.

Image may contain: Clothing, Apparel, Poster, Paper, Flyer, Brochure

Business Director Dylan Ritchie

It's the passion and the selflessness of everybody involved that really define us. We would never look at the final tote board as an indicator of how well the year went.

There aren't many words for hitting a milestone like three million and seeing that increase from DM23 to DM24. Knowing how much of a difference that is going to make for the hospital and for our families, and knowing that everybody in the organization gave it 110% this entire year, it felt really great.

I joined Dance Marathon wanting and expecting to change the lives of others and my life ended up changing, too. Once you hear a family's story of a child that passed away, meet a kid in the middle of the fight of their life, or celebrate with a child for being cancer free, your whole perspective on life changes.

There are a lot of passionate people in the world, but seeing thousands of college students come together to do something bigger than themselves, for people they probably don't know, it's inspiring.

Although I will be graduating this semester, the memories DM has given me will be cherished for the rest of my life. This experience has made me a better person.

Image may contain: Performer, Musician, Musical Instrument, Music, Leisure Activities, Guitarist, Guitar, Scarf, Feather Boa, Clothing, Stage, Person, People, Human

Kylene Spanbauer, 18

When the signs were raised showing that we had raised over $3 million, I think a lot of people were shocked. There was just so much joy and that feeling of accomplishment.

We had worked so hard all year, and to see that our efforts had paid off and that so much money was going to the kids, who deserve the world, was incredible.

Doing the marathon wasn't easy, but it's not as difficult when you know why and who you're doing it for.

The kiddos are the reason why we strive to raise so much money and it's inspiring to meet them and hear their stories. They're our heroes.

Image may contain: Poster, Paper, Flyer, Brochure, Person, People, Human

Dara Thompson, 20

It was unbelievable how much we got total at first, but that's what hard work can do.

It gets a little bit harder towards the middle of the marathon because you're at the point where your feet are starting to hurt but it helps thinking about the kids and how strong they are.

Participating in this organization means there's hope for all those who get the bad end of things. I, personally, love helping others, and putting a smile on someone's face makes my day that much brighter and better.

So, being in this club with like-minded people to help fund research and alleviate some of the financial burden from families going through such hard times, is why I love to do this.

Image may contain: Toy, Costume, Electronics, Camera, Smile, Portrait, Face, Person, People, Human

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported Dance Marathon 24!

Image may contain: Crowd, Troop, Night Life, Night Club, Club, Team, Soldier, Person, People, Military Uniform, Military, Human, Army

University of Iowa DM 24 Iowa City UI Dance Marathon University of Iowa