This weekend, University of Michigan students and families stood on their feet for 24 hours for VictorThon, raising money for pediatric therapies for children in local hospitals. From 1 p.m. on Saturday to 1 p.m. on Sunday, participants danced in the Indoor Training Center, ultimately racking up $420,861.30 in donations. 

VictorThon is the biggest event of the year for Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan, one of the largest student-run non-profits at the University. DMUM is an organization dedicated to supporting rehabilitation programs at C.S. Mott and Beaumont Children’s Hospitals. The programs DMUM sponsors allow children to participate in activities such as tree climbing, swimming, dancing, and bowling.

In efforts to pass the time, VictorThon was host to many games and performances. The major activity was the “Line Dance,” where DMUM members went on stage every couple of hours to teach three dances at a time. Various student groups such as Groove, a nontraditional percussion student group, made appearances. Therapists from the programs DMUM supports talked about their rehab therapies, and families participated in the family talent show portion of the event.

The 24 hours were split up by different “theme hours,” providing the dancers with different forms of entertainment. Booths adhering to these themes helped engage the dancers in different ways. LSA sophomore Amanda Wasserman, a dancer captain of Delta Phi Epsilon, especially appreciated the tailgate theme hour that gave Michigan fans time to view the basketball game.

“With the basketball game last night, that was a nice section of time where everyone was able to get together and celebrate not only standing up for the kids, but also celebrating a really awesome victory,” Wasserman said.

DMUM also interspersed speeches and performances by families and kids undergoing the treatments they sponsor, giving the children a time to shine and showing the dancers what they’re standing for. LSA sophomore Lillie Heyman, Wasserman’s co-captain, said this aspect of the event moved her.

“A lot of times we fundraise for these abstract organizations where you don’t really know where your money is going, but with DMUM you’re not just donating, you’re participating in an experience and you’re seeing exactly where your money is going,” Heyman said. “You’re really understanding the impact you’re making in the lives of others.”

Wasserman echoed this sentiment, saying seeing these children perform made her motivation unwavering.

“If these kids can get up on stage and put their heart and soul into every movement they take, then standing for these 24 hours is really the least we can do,” Wasserman said.

Kinesiology junior Evie Chodock was one of the organizers of the event on the Corporate Foundation Relations team of DMUM’s steering leadership team. She helped reach out to different corporate sponsors and placed these sponsors at different booths at VictorThon. She, like Heyman and Wasserman, further emphasized the value of seeing the impact DMUM’s funds have on the children they support. A standout moment of the day, she said, was during the closing ceremony when a girl afflicted with cerebral palsy performed “The Victors” on the trombone. Her musical ability was made possible by a music therapy DMUM had sponsored.

“Seeing this girl and her sister play ‘Hail to the Victors’ onstage,” Chodock said. “I just looked around me and dancers and different members of leadership were all crying, half out of exhaustion and half out of joy. This girl who couldn’t stop smiling onstage and every year sings ‘Hail to the Victors’ with us, for the first time got to play it on an instrument, which she’d never been able to do before.”

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