Students shuffled into the balloon-filled gymnasium with their most comfortable sneakers on, wearing athletic shorts and matching blue t-shirts. With fanny packs belted around their waists and water bottles in hand they were ready to dance for a cause — the University of Missouri Children’s Hospital.
The Mizzou Dance Marathon kicked off at noon March 9, 2013, and ended more than 13 hours later. Dance Marathons have been around since the late 1920s. They were used originally as a competition for couples dancing, but in 1973, Penn State transformed a dance marathon into a fundraising event. The University of Missouri has been hosting the Dance Marathon for six years. This year they raised $152,402 — more than double last year’s total of $59,000.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Gina Lubben, team member of Cassidy-Rae. “It was beautiful to see students dance with these children that we were sponsoring. All in all, it was life changing.”
For 13.1 hours five hundred MU students stayed on their feet. Two a capella groups, and two dance groups performed for the dancers and kids. A Zumba dance instructor kept the crowd moving for the cause. Even the MU chancellor and his wife made an appearance.
“I loved hearing all of the families’ stories throughout the night,” Lubben said. “It really just put everything in perspective and fed into the determination to dance the full 13.1 hours.”
Family story times allowed families to stand on stage and tell their stories about the children volunteers were dancing for. This was always an emotional part of the event that brought a sense of unity to the audience.
Another moving moment of the night was when some students marched on stage and shaved their heads and cut their hair to donate.
“It was a very selfless act for those students to cut their hair for those kids,” Lubben said. “It really was a moment I won’t forget.”
Every hour of the lengthy dance had a theme with music to match. They had a rock and roll theme, ’70s theme and even a safari theme. The children really enjoyed this aspect of the night and danced along. Students created large circles around each child and cheered them on as they danced.
“This was a night I will never forget,” Lubben said. “I plan to do this again next year. I would recommend it to anyone. Nights like these are the moments in life that matter the most.”
If you would like to be involved in Dance Marathon next year, you can learn more about it at http://dancemarathon.missouri.edu.