Miracles for Miles

Runners jogged past the campanile with their orange attire during the UNI Dance Marathon 5k on Saturday afternoon

SHELBY WELSCH, Staff Writer

Students dressed in orange trotted and jogged across campus to support kiddos involved in Dance Marathon last Saturday.

Dance Marathon (DM) is a fairly popular organization among UNI students, with a reported 302 members in the UNI student organization directory, and has raised nearly 1 million dollars for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital over the past six years, according to their website.

Although their “Big Event” is the one that raises the most amount of money, students involved in DM have already begun putting on smaller events, like the 5k, to raise even more money for these kids.

According to junior early childhood and elementary education major and DM morale captain, Jessica Alexander, the event took place right here on UNI’s campus.

Runners of all ages started at the alumni house, then looped all around campus and ended back at the alumni house.

Last year, Dance Marathon hosted a “Cookie 5k” where runners had to eat cookies while running.

However, this year they decided to revert back to a regular 5k where runners were highly suggested to deck themselves out in the color orange. 94.5 KULT radio was also present to provide music.

Prizes were handed out to those who finished top in their age bracket. To sweeten the prize, all the winners also had the chance to pie a Dance Marathon executive member in the face. Ethan Philo, senior accounting and business economics major, won the overall 5k with a time of 20:24, according to UNI DM’s Twitter page.

“The crowd that came out was great and really energetic,” Alexander said.

According to morale captain Amber Neisius, DM is holding other events later in the semester such as their annual trick-or-treat event; students will pass out candy to the kids who are bed-ridden at their hospitals.

There will also be a donation tent at the homecoming tailgate and a pancake breakfast event. Every dollar raised goes back to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, and Neisius thinks that is incredibly special.

“I’ve poured my heart into this organization because it has so much to give back and is making miracles happen every day,” Neisius said.

What the group calls their Big Event will take place on March 4. At this event, over a thousand dancers will get together and dance for 12 hours straight. The idea behind this huge gathering is if sick kids can endure pain in their hospital beds, healthy college students can stay up for 12 hours dancing and raising money for a good cause.

Registration just recently opened up for students to be a part of the 2016 Dance Marathon events, and the 5k was just the start of all the different things they plan to put on. Although the Big Event is months away, according to Alexander, now is the time to sign up.

Alexander spoke about how worthwhile it is to sign up for Dance Marathon, and said that when the sick kids come out to the Big Event and dance with everyone, their smiles light up the room. According to Alexander, Dance Marathon is the highlight of their year, which is enough to bring tears to her eyes.

“Dance Marathon makes you realize all the blessings you have. We get the opportunity to go to college and see a future for ourselves,” Alexander said. “For some of these sick kiddos, there is not that definite yes. We get to celebrate these kids’ lives.”