Dance Marathon's commitment to kids

UNI's chapter of Dance Marathon has experienced record-breaking growth in the two years the event has been hosted on campus. From having participation go from 600 to 900 dancers in one year, to being the first chapter of Dance Marathon to raise more than $50,000 in their first year, the group is one of the fastest-growing student organizations on campus.

Dance Marathon
UNI's Dance Marathon raised more than $100,000 for the University of Iowa Children's Hospital in 2013.

Now in their third year, UNI Dance Marathon has set higher goals than ever before. With a fundraising goal of $125,000 for 2014 and a recent commitment to raise $100,00 for the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, the group shows no signs of slowing down.

"Every year it's similar goals to be bigger, better, raise more money and create awareness on campus," said Nate Dobbels, one of the co-directors for the group. "If we can improve upon the year before and do things we've never done, that's the goal of the organization."

Dance Marathon is a national organization that raises money for the Children's Miracle Network, a nonprofit that funds children's hospitals throughout the country. UNI Dance Marathon was launched in 2012 to raise money for Iowa's Children's Miracle Network Hospital, the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.

From the beginning, the group has more than exceeded their goals. Their first year, they hoped to raise $14,000. They ended up raising $56,000, shattering expectations and breaking a 15-year-long national record in the process.

In 2013, they set their sights a little higher, with a fundraising goal of $66,000. That year, they became one of only 20 Dance Marathon chapters to raise more than $100,000, half of which will go towards their recent commitment to the University of Iowa's Children's Hospital.

The other $50,000 will come from funds raised during this year's Dance Marathon. The money will help fund a new pediatric intensive care room, whose entryway will have a sign that acknowledges UNI Dance Marathon's contribution. "I think it's incredible to know that we are going to have a tangible result to our efforts," said Dobbels. "Our money is saving lives. I think that's something that we can all be proud of."

Dancers have already started fundraising and registration is still open for anyone who would like to help raise money and participate in the Big Event, which will take place in the spring. However, according to Dobbels, the sooner people register and start raising money, the better. "It's never too early to start making a difference," he said. "The more dancers we have, the more lives we can impact and the more money we can raise to help make miracles happen."

While this year's fundraising goal is the highest-ever for UNI Dance Marathon, the true goal of the organization has nothing to do with a dollar amount. "It's not about money," said Dobbels. "The idea is that we come together to support these kids."