Dance Marathon rebrands, moves location for Nov. 4 event

Aiden Blinn | Staff Reporter

Washington University’s annual Dance Marathon fundraiser underwent comprehensive publicity and programming changes to increase its presence on campus in anticipation of the 12-hour event, which took place Nov. 4.

Dance Marathon, a charity event benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis, consists of a 12-hour dance, student performances and various games. The event, previously held in the Danforth University Center, moved to the Athletic Center to house more participants and activities.

Students hype up the crowd of dancers at Dance Marathon Saturday. DM raises money for Children’s Miracle Network.Courtesy of Jane Zankman

Students hype up the crowd of dancers at Dance Marathon Saturday. DM raises money for Children’s Miracle Network.

According to senior Jane Zankman, a co-executive director of the fundraiser, the Dance Marathon executive board focused on improving the event’s marketing and reminding the community of the marathon’s charitable goals in the buildup to the event.

“Something that we noticed over the years when we were going back through photos was the fact that there really was a lack of consistency with Dance Marathon when it came to [public relations] and marketing materials,” Zankman said.

In addition to refining its advertisements, the Dance Marathon team emphasized the event’s philanthropic goals.

“We had one of the highest number of dancers register this year, so we decided that now was the time to not only come up with marketing stuff and rebrand in that sense, but really [to] come up with a solid mission statement for our program,” Zankman said. “So our big mission this year is to dance for a day and give hope for a lifetime.”

Zankman hopes that this concentration on Dance Marathon’s message will remind University students of the cause that the event supports.

“People will talk about Dance Marathon as a fun party and a great time—which it is—but our real goal is to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network of greater St. Louis,” Zankman said. “All that money is used to help with research and help with all of those new technology but also especially to make sure that families are never turned away from being able to receive care.”

According to Zankman, this new focus on improved publicity and creating a mission statement had pronounced effects leading up to Nov. 4.

“We noticed that our visibility on campus when we made that shift really improved,” Zankman said. “We noticed also just how engaged first-year students were with fundraising and being able to meet their fundraising goal.”

Children stand on stage at the Dance Marathon event in the Athletic Complex Saturday. Dance Marathon celebrated its 19th year at Washington University with this Saturday’s DM party.Courtesy of Jane Zankman

Children stand on stage at the Dance Marathon event in the Athletic Complex Saturday. Dance Marathon celebrated its 19th year at Washington University with this Saturday’s DM party.

The executive directors of Dance Marathon increased involvement through a program created specifically for first-year students.

“We also this year initiated our first-year ambassadors program, which we thought was a really good opportunity for first-years to get involved in something on campus—something that’s been around for a while because this is our 19th year on campus,” Zankman said.

First-year ambassador and freshman Cameron Bryant enjoyed his Dance Marathon experience.

“I’m on the first-year committee, so my job was to get people involved, try to get as many people as possible signed up. The participants were great, the student performances were great, the vendors were great and everyone was around to have a good time,” Bryant said.

Like Zankman, Bryant recognized the importance of prioritizing the event’s impact over the event itself.

“[Dance Marathon] more drew me in for the cause than the actual role that I played. Children’s Miracle Network does a great job with supporting families and supporting research. I want to make sure everybody has an equal chance in this world,” Bryant said.