Although it seems unlikely that stepping onto a crowded dance floor could help children, participants of this year’s Dance Marathon are all about beating the odds. Forty-five hundred dancers, “moralers” and volunteers gathered at the Indoor Track and Field Building to raise $197,396.71 over the weekend.
Through a partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network, the money goes to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak to fund pediatric rehabilitation programs. Through these programs, Dance Marathon members are involved with the families throughout the year, aiding in the social, emotional and physical development of children.
“Dance Marathon is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and dedication,” LSA sophomore Nina Catalfio said. “Here, you get to see all your efforts channeled through these kids. Once you’re involved, you can’t give it up.”
Dance Marathon participants raised $31,000 more in donations than last year.
“In every aspect, we’ve gotten bigger and better. Everything has been growing and evolving,” said Michael Mayer, a Business School senior and executive director of Dance Marathon. “It’s good to see the spirit has lived through the test of time,” he added.
Running from Saturday through Sunday, students are required to stay on their feet for 30 hours. Starting at 8:30 a.m., live music and disc jockeys kept dancers moving while games, crafts and appearances by guest speakers like Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr and the families involved in the program kept dancers occupied.
“Listening to the families talk is so inspiring. It continually reminds me why I’m here,” LSA freshman Mary-Lynn Tepatti said. “When I got here, I was apprehensive, but after I saw how amazing the whole project is, adrenaline took over.”
Daryl Peguese, father of Evan and Miles Peguese, twins who were born thirteen weeks premature and were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is one parent who has benefited from the philanthropy of the program. “I’m very proud to be involved. I now have an appreciation for all these kids. It’s like a big family,” Peguese said.
Dance Marathon is supported by local business sponsors who donate the overhead and supplies needed for the event, while other volunteers provide technical and moral support, Mayer said. “The marathon brings together students, faculty, staff and the rest of the Ann Arbor community.”
“All the people here blow me away,” LSA sophomore Matt Kochanek said. “Being here is absolutely worth it.”