Ross School of Business junior Kaitlyn Ortberg’s enthusiasm for Dance Marathon’s cause is contagious.
Ortberg, the event’s development chair, remained on her feet at the Indoor Track and Field Building for 30 straight hours this weekend while dancing and watching – the culmination of months of work.
At Dance Marathon, a student run, nonprofit organization that raises money for rehabilitation therapy for children, dancers stand and perform for a total of 30 hours. Each participant in the marathon pledges to raise at least $300, which goes to C.S. Mott’s Children Hospital and William Beaumont Hospital.
Although the program’s main event takes place within a two-day span, Dance Marathon is a yearlong commitment, requiring months of planning and organizing. Event organizers began holding fundraising events for the program in September. Dancers can sign up and raise money anytime before the marathon.
During the event, held from 10 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday, a combination of energetic background music, vibrant decorations corresponding to themes that changed every six hours and hundreds of animated participants.
Craft tables, volleyball, study tables, ping-pong, morale teams, and line dancing – along with a live feed camera crew to document the occasion – helped keep the 30-hour marathon from becoming monotonous.
During the event, participants enjoyed the company of the children and their families, dancing to upbeat music alongside the dancers, eating meals with each other and engaging in various sports and activities.
Dance Marathon’s Central Planning Team plans new events throughout the year to allow children and family to interact with dancers.
“We see something great, and we want to do it better. We figure out a way to make it work, and then we can take the energy and manpower to do it.” Ortberg said.
After the countdown to the end of the event, dancers took a much-needed sit. When the total amount of money raised was finally announced, dancers shot back up to their feet, cheering and applauding thunderously. A total of $428,109.79 was raised this year – an increase of almost $75,000 from last year’s event.
Dance Marathon has raised a total of $2.4 million over the past 11 years.
LSA senior Steve Crompton, the event’s external director said he would like to see the program expand to more hospitals in the future, specifically in the Detroit and Flint areas. The Dance Marathon’s Operations Organizational Team is evaluating the most effective way to do it, he said.
Art and Design senior Ellen Creal, who participated in the marathon as a dancer, said she had been looking forward to the event since November, when she first started raising money.
“The impact is huge,” she said. “You really have the ability to connect with the families.”