DM registration hits 10-year high

| Contributing Reporter

Although Washington University’s Dance Marathon falls on the same weekend as Parent & Family Weekend this year, the campus-wide community service event boasts the most registered participants in its 10-year history.

Dance Marathon has registered 1,100 students for the event. Last year, which also set a record for number of participants, 1,056 students, local high school students and University alumni.

The event, which will be held in the Athletic Complex (AC) on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m, benefits the Children’s Miracle Network of Greater St. Louis, a national non-profit organization that raises funds for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Cardinal Glennon Medical Center.

“Children who are treated at the hospitals that Children’s Miracle Network benefits are called ‘miracle children’ and several of them come to our event and join in the dancing and celebration,” senior Lauren Statman, the 2008 Dance Marathon executive director, said. “The dancers always really like to see that. Every team dances for a child as a mascot, or something to keep motivating them.”

Additionally, this year Dance Marathon is inviting parents and families of students to participate in the 12-hour event.

“Parents can totally dance. It’s a way to join Wash. U. families with those families of the Children’s Miracle Network for Greater St. Louis,” Kate Durso, coordinator for community service and staff adviser for this year’s Dance Marathon, said.

The presence of parents, however, has forced the planners of Dance Marathon to adjust the time of the event.

“One of the decisions that we made in order to cope with Parents Weekend was to push the time of Dance Marathon from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. to 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. so that dancers could spend time with their parents and families in the morning and afternoon and then come to Dance Marathon,” sophomore Alex Mancall, co-chair of public relations for the event, said.

Each hour has a different music and costume theme, and dancers must adapt their respective dances to these themes.

Although the Dance Marathon executive board did not initially anticipate that the event would be held during Parent Weekend, the team was able to come together and successfully incorporate the two events.

“It was definitely a shock at first and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to incorporate it into the weekend instead of making kids choose,” Mancall said. “It’s been interesting from the PR perspective, because when encouraging people to register they say, ‘Can’t come, it’s Parent Weekend,’ so then it comes down to how we want the Dance Marathon to be looked upon this year. It’s been a great success, though, all-in-all.”

“You can tell by the fact that our registration numbers are as high as ever that [Parent Weekend] didn’t affect registration. People still want to do Dance Marathon,” Statman said.

Visitors are encouraged to attend from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and are asked to donate $5 at the door. Parents are also encouraged to attend a dinner provided by Dining Services from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Statman said of the dinner, “It’s been a creative way for us to embrace Parents Weekend and raise more funds.”

The Dance Marathon team also dealt with space limitations for the AC because of the vice presidential debate, which was held in the AC on Oct. 2.

“We’ve also made it clear that our schedule is at the mercy of the AC. We get a date from Athletic Complex and we embrace it. Because of the vice presidential debate, scheduling was very limited. We were very happy that Dance Marathon was happening at all.”

Last year, the Dance Marathon team kept the fundraising goal secret until the end of the event. At the end of last year’s Dance Marathon, the group had raised $162,000, but following that deadline, the group raised an additional $14,000 from post-Dance Marathon donors, bringing last year’s total to $176,000.

Statman said, “We keep our goal and our reach a secret until the end of the event. Most executive board members don’t even know.”

Statman believes that having Dance Marathon during Parent Weekend will be a great way of showcasing campus life to the parents and families of students.

“Dance Marathon is a very special event, especially on Parent Weekend, because it actually allows parents to see students taking a part in student life on campus,” Statman said. “They can see what students actually do as opposed to watching and sitting down or taking a tour.”

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