UIndy Dance Marathon raises money for Riley Hospital for Children

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The University of Indianapolis will be holding its 14th annual Dance Marathon on Feb. 26 from 2-10 p.m. Last year, the event was set up differently due to COVID-19 guidelines, however, senior nursing major and Dance Marathon President Lauren Meadows said they are hoping to get the event back to normal this year. 

Dance Marathon raised about $66,000 in the 2019-2020 school year, while they only raised about $42,000 last year, according to junior political science major and Dance Marathon Director of Morale Priscilla Garcia. She said they have a fundraising goal this year of around $66,000 to match the amount they raised two years ago. With the funds raised, half of it will go towards research for pediatric illnesses and the other half goes towards child life specialties, Meadows said. 

Photo by Kiara Conley 2021 Dance Marathon attendees participate in a group dance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were required to follow the university’s safety guidelines, and the event was offered for virtual attendance for those who were not comfortable in-person.

Last year, students could only come for four hours and rotated between stations in Schwitzer Student Center, and Meadows said that a lot of the family and networking aspect that the event typically has was lost. This year, she said that they will go back to hosting the event in the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center, with social distancing and mask-wearing at all times. 

“Our big push is that as much as we want to get together and have all the fun and go to pre-COVID[-19] … we have to be careful and still social distance and adjust things,” Meadows said. “But it’s still important to have this event because ultimately, we’re benefiting the kids at Riley…. If we don’t have this event, they are also suffering because we’re not able to provide as much fundraising for them.”

The event will include food, games, raffles, fundraising events and stories from children and families who have been at Riley Hospital for Children, Meadows said. They have the whole gym reserved and decorated so they can have a stage set up and games around the basketball court area, Garcia said. She said that the Riley stories are a big part of the event where families come and share their stories about patients who are currently at the Riley Hospital for Children.  

“They’re super important because our RSO [Registered Student Organization] is affiliated with Riley Hospital for Children … it gives us a whole reason as to why we’re fundraising in the first place,” Garcia said. “Because we’re listening to these stories, and how our money affects them, and helps them out and all of that.”

This year, the event has a maximum capacity of 150 people in the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center. Garcia said that a big goal of the Dance Marathon is not just fundraising, but to get more people involved in their organization. She said she hopes more people participate this year since they are able to have a larger capacity than last year. 

“Other goals, besides fundraising, would probably be just for everyone to have a great time, to definitely get people involved and to stay amongst our RSO for next year,” Garcia said. “You really want to have good retention and have more people come out this year so that they can see what an amazing event this is.”

Students are encouraged to come out to the Dance Marathon in order to learn more about the event and what it is about. Meadows said she wants this event to allow UIndy students to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and she wants to have the event available to all the students and faculty. She said that everybody is welcome, and anyone who is considering coming should. 

“Don’t be afraid of the dance aspect of Dance Marathon. If you are interested in coming, we’d love to have you, anybody is more than welcome,” Meadows said. “We just want to provide a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for everybody on campus. [It’s] a chance to meet some new people and do something that you normally wouldn’t be able to do.”

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