The University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting its first Miracle Network Dance Marathon to raise funds and awareness for sick and injured kids treated at local children's hospitals on Saturday. The student-led organization hopes to raise $20,000 for the Mission Critical Fund at the Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in Milwaukee.
“The main goal of Dance Marathon is to not only raise money for children receiving treatment in the hospital, but to come together as a community surrounding one cause,” said Hospitality Chair Mara Winner. “It makes such a difference when everyone is passionate about one thing and are rallying together to help people in need.”
There will be 16 teams and approximately 350 participants on campus, some who will be dancing for about three hours. The Kappa Kappa Gamma dance team, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Delta Gamma, Fitness Through Dance UW and Gamma Phi Beta are among the top teams with the most money raised so far.
The dance marathon is three hours long this year, but Executive Director Kallie Phipps expects the marathon to be a 24-hour event in the near future.
“Dance Marathon is brand new to our campus this year,” she said. “We’ve spent this year navigating many little obstacles to get ourselves more established on campus, so it ended up making the most sense to downsize our event.”
The event will involve more than just dancing. There will be three videos from childhood cancer patients shown at the event and two patients will be speaking in person at the event, according to Phipps.
“We incorporated more passive fundraising activities and allotted time for some previous patients who received treatment from Children's to share their stories,” she said.
Students involved in Dance Marathon gain valuable skills in philanthropy, leadership, communication, collaboration and project management.
“I'm super passionate about healthcare. I’m majoring in neurobiology and pharmacology and toxicology, and it has always been a goal of mine to impact healthcare in some way,” said Phipps. “I came across the Dance Marathon Instagram page last spring and decided to apply because it combines a lot of my interests — medicine, healthcare, working with children and dancing.”
Dance Marathon unites students across 400 colleges, universities and high schools across the nation. Since 1991, the movement has raised over $300 million for local children’s hospitals, and each campus’s Dance Marathon fundraises throughout the year to raise awareness and support children in need.
Pennsylvania State University hosts a dance marathon every year called THON. In 2021, they raised $11,588,237, and 95.97% of those funds went to Four Diamonds to assist children and their families affected by childhood cancer. Phipps hopes the dance marathon at UW becomes just as popular.
“I’m hoping that in ten years from now, I can look back on this experience and see how much the dance marathon at UW-Madison has grown since this first year,” she said.
The Dance Marathon will take place this Saturday, April 23 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Nicholas Recreation Center. People can register at the door and are encouraged to pay a suggested donation of $5.