Saturday morning at 10 a.m., C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” blared out of the loudspeakers in the Indoor Track Building on South Campus.
Multicolored lights flashed above approximately 800 students who gathered for the event. Morale captains in bright pink shirts led the group from the stage located at the front of the room, their movements wild and sporadic.
University of Michigan Dance Marathon had just begun.
For 30 hours — from early Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon — students from across campus stood on their feet to raise money and awareness for pediatric rehabilitation programs at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University and Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.
The marathon, now in its 12 year, has grown from a small group of 30 students in 1997 to a major student-run nonprofit organization. Last year the event raised approximately $428,000.
This year the organization raised $388,134, a number UMDM Executive Director Mike Spadafore said is incredible in this economy.
“I’m 100 percent proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish this year,” Spadafore said. “Due to some economic times, it’s been impacting everybody. But we’re extremely proud.
“Most of our focus (is) helping these kids,” he said. “Everyone is in need in these economic times.”
Participants raise money by collecting pledges for their participation in the event. Individuals can also give a general donation to the event through the group’s website. More than 40 corporations sponsored this year’s event, according to the UMDM website.
For the entire 30 hours, the only requirement is that those participating must remain on their feet. To keep the participants’ energy level high during the 30 hours of standing, an array of activities was available to them, including crafts, basketball, video games and a study table.
LSA sophomore Breanna Miller, who worked as a dance captain, said she enjoyed dancing to the upbeat music with other members of her group.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the line dance,” Miller said at the beginning of the night.
The line dance, which formed whenever Rihanna’s “Disturbia” played, consisted of participants charging the stage and dancing en masse, their movements synchronized.
Around noon on Sunday, the cue for the line dance began, but Nursing senior Rachel Levinson remained slumped over a table in the back of the room.
“(I’m) very tired,” Levinson said. “(It’s been) pretty rough.”
Participants at the event wore different colored T-shirts depending on their roles. Shirt colors ranged from morale captains wearing bright pink T-shirts to family supporters wearing brown shirts and crewmembers wearing black.
Business senior Alex Kunkel, who wore the black shirt indicating his job as a crew member instead of a dancer, watched the proceedings from a distance and said he felt somewhat excluded from the events.
“I’m pretty much running this entire monstrosity,” Kunkel said, gesturing toward the drop-off station where participants had placed their personal belongings. “I feel disconnected from the marathon.”
University alum Lizzie Neilson was one volunteer who helped out at the event by giving massages to participants and bringing them water.
“The alumni in the organization really want to be still involved,” Neilson said. “Every year I come back, I’m so inspired about how amazing the dancers are.”
Spadafore echoed Neilson’s sentiments, not just for the marathon, but for the entire year of work.
“I thought it was absolutely incredible. We had a solid group of dancers,” he said. “They were just 100 percent energy the entire year.”