Students dance their way to $50k

Erika Ward

Western Illinois University students danced for 12 hours with no breaks on Saturday to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) of Greater St. Louis.

Dance Marathon began on Western’s campus last year.  The goal then was to raise $12,000, which was surpassed when participants raised $22,000 to benefit the children.

The event is 12 hours long because it is the average shift that a doctor or nurse stand on their feet, while caring for a child in one of these hospitals.

The goal this year for Dance Marathon was to raise $40,000.  Participants exceeded that amount and ultimately raised $51,883.02.

“I was speechless,” Dance Marathon president Cassidy Pogue said.  “I didn’t know how much we raised until the reveal.  That morning I knew that we had a little bit over $38,000, but throughout the entire day I had no idea where we were.  When that number flipped, I was completely speechless and overwhelmed with emotion.

“(My favorite) was the Power Hour,” Pogue added. “Just seeing everyone come together in that last hour and go all out was really cool to see.”

Justin Clanin, an exercise science major, was a participant in the

12-hour event, which was heldi n the Grand Ballroom of the University Union.

“Throughout high school we would help raise money for an organization called Easter Seals,” Clanin said.  “I saw how much it helped those kids, and I wanted to keep doing that while I’m in college.”

Clanin said he was impressed with the amount that Western participants had raised.

“I was amazed,” Clanin said.  “I saw how much it went up from last year, and I was so happy.  (It) brought back the memory of doing it in high school.”

Every hour of the event had a specific theme.  Starting with an America theme and hitting various others such as tie-dye, Disney, superhero, pajamas, Leatherneck and many others before finally finishing with

Power Hour, a period of free-form dancing and jumping around.

“My favorite part was Power Hour,” Clanin said.  “We all raged for the last hour of Dance Marathon.”

Along with 12 different theme hours, there was plenty of entertainment provided for the participants with different inflatables and a variety of groups performing on stage.  Every hour the Morale Team would teach another section of a dance to the participants to help encourage enthusiasm for this long day.  

Also, at the event there were some of the Miracle Families, which are families that have utilized care from different children’s hospitals.  These families were invited on stage in front of everyone to tell their stories and experiences with the Children’s Miracle Network in an effort to motivate dancers to stay on their feet.

Every time that a Miracle Family went on stage, participants in the room began chanting the most popular phrase of the night:  FTK.  FTK means “For The Kids,” which was the motivating idea for the participants.

Dance Marathon was not planned on short notice, and the preparations for this year began last year.

“We started planning basically right after the event last year,” Pogue said.  “We got the new E-Board (Executive Board) together at the beginning of March and started planning then.”

Pogue believes that all of this planning paid off in the end.

“Everything went as planned, even better than planned,” Pogue said.  “We completely passed our goal and raised a lot more than we were thinking we were going to.”

Pogue hopes for a continued success in the coming years.

“We’ve passed our goals the last two years by huge amounts,” Pogue said.  “(I hope) that we continue to grow and get more people involved and raise more money for CMN hospitals.”

The new E-Board applications for the planning of next year’s Dance Marathon will be available after spring break.