Imagine a large room filled with thousands of screaming, colorfully-dressed, dancing college students. People were decked out in face paint, tutus, high socks, bandanas, leis - you name it. You may think you're at a concert or a tailgate, but this past weekend, this was the scene at the IU Tennis Center for the annual Indiana University Dance Marathon (IUDM). It wasn't just a dance party, it was a challenge of fundraising and staying awake and on your feet for 17 or 36 hours staight - all in the name of the children and families at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.
I'd heard about IUDM last year as I went through the college application process and immediately knew that it was something I wanted to experience. Before classes even started, I had the opportunity to join a team with an organization I was involved with (Our team is pictured on the left!); a few weeks later, I made the decision to register and begin the quest to raise the $500 needed to become a dancer. After 6 weeks of emailing and calling, I reached my goal.
$500 may seem like a lot, but if you commit early, you'll have plenty of time to reach out to family, friends, and other contacts. You'll also have more time to buy IUDM clothing (all benefits Riley) and go canning at local clubs and restaurants.
Then, of course, is the challenge of staying awake and standing for 17 hours (or 36 if you raise enough money early on and qualify for a spot). For me, staying awake wasn't a big issue because I continuously ate throughout the night (so many carbs!) and almost always had something to do to keep me moving, whether it was learning the big line dance or playing tug-of-war. All of the participating organizations were split into teams for a huge color war to motivate us all to stay awake. Tom Crean and the basketball team paid a visit. And then there were live bands, including Another Round/Straight No Chaser, InMotion, and a zumba instructor. And of course, we had a rave (picture below).
Standing for that long, however, was tough. (even though I changed shoes and socks numerous times.) My legs and feet still hurt a day later.
But all that hard work was worth it in the end. I got to participate in a really fun 10-minute line dance with thousands of other students. I had the pleasure of listening to several Riley families and kids tell their stories and remind us why we do what we do (the kids are adorable!). I got to meet many more new people interested in the same cause and became a little closer with the people on my team.
And of course, the greatest moment of them all: after faking us out with a fundraising total that barely topped last year's, the first few number cards fell down to reveal a total of $2,125,322.20 For The Kids (FTK). The Tennis Center went crazy. It was truly unbelievable.
Thanks to all the IU students as well as my family and friends who made this event possible! I can't wait for next year!