If campus seemed a little quiet this weekend, it was because more than 1,300 students spent it at the Indoor Track Building volunteering for Dance Marathon, the culmination of 13 months of planning and fundraisers for C.S. Mott Children”s Hospital and William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
The marathon raised $131,161.59 for the hospitals, up from the $120,000 raised last year, by having volunteers stand on their feet throughout its duration.
Thirty hours of standing was no small feat for most dancers, and some were forced to limp off the dance floor in pain while others danced to the sounds of Gloria Gainor”s “I Will Survive” and Van Morrison”s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
“The hardest part is just being enthusiastic about it. There”s a certain time when your body just gets tired. It”s at the middle of the night when nobody is here,” said dancer Brian Teller, an Engineering senior.
“I”m getting psyched to finish, but my feet hurt. It”s pretty easy to have a concept of time. It”s been a long time. Maybe next week I”ll feel really good about doing it, but right now, I just want to sit down,” said LSA sophomore Erin Hayden after standing for 26 hours. “But in some way, I”ll be back.”
Watches and clocks were not allowed in the building, but dancers still found ways to estimate how long they had left to go.
“You can bribe people coming in if you really want to know what time it is, but really, time just passes,” said Kelly Wilson, an LSA junior. She added that most students could judge the time based on the amount of sunlight coming from outdoors and the number of families present.
Graduate student Danielle Stewart said she was definitely feeling the effects of time and exhaustion.
“I tried to get a lot of sleep last night … I mean, Friday night. It”s been so long. Now that its almost over it doesn”t feel so bad,” she said.
More than 1,000 of the 1,300 students were “moralers,” students who volunteered for a couple hours to help keep the dancers up and moving.
“I just graduated, but a lot of my friends are doing it, so I just came to make sure they weren”t dying at the end. I”m just trying to keep them from falling on the floor, keep them awake,” said University alum Jenny Chen, who has served as a moraler for the past two years.
Many volunteers were students who had helped out on previous Dance Marathons and found they wanted to contribute further.
“I saw the impact it had on the people who were in it. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to become more and more a part of it. I”m definitely glad I did it. I might not have said the same thing at 3 a.m., but I am sky high right now.” said Bush Goal, an LSA senior and campus relations coordinator for the event.
Throughout the marathon, families from Mott and Beaumont hospitals spoke about their experiences and thanked supporters for attending the event.
David Fleming, whose son Tyler will benefit from the marathon, stood in front of students and thanked them for their support.
“This is truly amazing. I remember the very first one, just a couple hundred moralers. Now there is just a sea of humanity out there,” he said.
Thanks to the marathon, Tyler has been given horseback riding and water therapy sessions to help his balance and build muscle.
“To say he enjoys it is an understatement,” his father said.