Dance Marathon hosts kickoff event

On Friday, Sept. 18, UNI Dance Marathon hosted a kickoff event to welcome participants back to campus and boost morale, following the opening of registration on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The event, which took place on Lawther Field from 6-8 p.m., drew more than 50 people. Wearing various shades of orange, students laughed and chatted as they participated in yard games such as limbo and beanbags.

In keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, all attendees wore masks, social distancing was enforced and there were multiple hand sanitizing stations.

Senior psychology and family services major Alisha Kammerude and junior biology pre-chiropractic major Nicole Deir are serving as this year’s executive co-directors of Dance Marathon. The two wanted to assure the community that they are taking all precautions necessary to keep participants safe, not only during Friday’s event, but throughout the entire registration and fundraising process and the Big Event itself.

For example, Dance Marathon registration has switched to a different format to prevent in-person contact.

“We also have contactless registration to serve those who may be uncomfortable or unable to come on campus,” Deir and Kammerude wrote in an email prior to Friday’s event.

Fundraising, which was largely virtual even before the pandemic, is now entirely so.

“For now, we’re not doing any sort of canning,” Deir said on Friday, referring to Dance Marathon’s well-known style of knocking doors or attending events to ask for donations. “We’re keeping it as safe as possible for everyone.”

The pandemic also means that for now, the Dance Marathon “miracle kids” and families are not attending in-person Dance Marathon events. Many of these children are battling diseases which may weaken their immune systems and make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

“It’s difficult,” Deir said. “(The kids) are our reason why we do what we do, why we put on all these events, and they can’t be here to dance with us, laugh with us.”

However, Kammerude said that the Dance Marathon team is planning to host virtual events that will include the “miracle kids,” such as Zoom craft nights. They may also explore the option of live-streaming in-person events such as Friday’s.

Deir and Kammerude said that they have been pleasantly surprised by the level of campus interest in this year’s Dance Marathon, despite the uncertainties of COVID-19.

“Our numbers are actually pretty good compared to last year,” Kammerude said.

She added that this fall’s freshman class has shown a particular interest, and many have already stepped into leadership roles: Dance Marathon has an unusually high number of freshmen serving as Morale Captains this year.

“People have reached out to us personally, asking how committees are going to work and… how they can get involved,” Deir agreed.

As for how the Big Event itself will work if the COVID-19 pandemic is still an issue in the spring, the Dance Marathon executive board is still in the planning process.

“We’re just trying to see what’ll be best (and) work through the kinks,” Deir said.

Students who have questions about how Dance Marathon will operate with COVID-19 concerns can email Deir and Kammerude at [email protected] for more information.

To register for the 2020-2021 UNI Dance Marathon, text UNIDM21 to 51555 to receive a link to the registration form.