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Dance marathon bops to the top

Josh Mackner, Co-Executive Director of Concordia Dance Marathon (far right), and other Dance Mara- thon supporters pose with a child that benefited from the Children’s Miracle Network. Courtesy of Concordia Dance Marathon
Josh Mackner, Co-Executive Director of Concordia Dance Marathon (far right), and other Dance Mara- thon supporters pose with a child that benefited from the Children’s Miracle Network. Courtesy of Concordia Dance Marathon

We all know that the cost of tuition at is no small number, but that amount is what one student organization is working to raise this year in order to donate it to the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo.

Dance Marathon is an international non-profit organization that raises money for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, said Josh Mackner, Co-Executive Director of Concordia Dance Marathon. The Children’s Miracle Network is another non-profit organization that many hospitals are registered with, including Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo.

Faculty advisor Dr. Jason Askvig said their goal is to raise $36,650, the same amount as Concordia’s tuition. According to Askvig, the thought behind that amount is that every child deserves to get the chance to be a college student one day.

Concordia Dance Marathon means a lot to Sanford families who benefit from the donations, said Kacey Finch, Concordia Dance Marathon’s Morale Director.

“The Children’s Miracle Network provides equipment that saves kids’ lives,” Finch said. “It’s a total game changer.”

According to Mackner, Dance Marathon is the largest collegiate philanthropy movement in North America, and has over 350 organizations across the United States and Canada. According to Dance Marathon’s webpage, each organization is entirely run by students and all funds raised go directly to the schools’ local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Dance Marathon was started in 1991, at Indiana University. There, one student was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and before his first year of university he passed away. As a response to this, students at Indiana University started this movement that has since then raised $135 million, according to Dance Marathon’s website.

“The university actually had a dance marathon for 24 hours,” Mackner said. “They did phone calls and they danced, and that kind of spread across the United States and now Canada.”

Concordia’s involvement started six years ago. In those six years there has been an increase of participants, or dancers, every year.

“Last year at this time we had 31 dancers registered,” Mackner said. “This year we have 192.”

Mackner said that one of the possible reasons for the big increase in number of dancers this year was their involvement in orientation week. During the first week of school the organization worked to inform students about Dance Marathon and why it’s important.

“We really encouraged students to register and we wanted to make sure students knew that when they register for Dance Marathon, they’re not really registering for a big time commitment,” Mackner said. “We just want them to know about the Dance Marathon, and know that we’re raising money for the Children’s Hospital.”

Students can register on a system called DonorDrive at any time, which is used for Dance Marathon’s online fundraising. Students who register to be a dancer are put into different teams that have their own team captain.

A lot of the fundraising is done online, but there are also several businesses that make donations to Concordia Dance Marathon, Mackner said. Some examples are Lowe’s and S & S Promotional Group, who is providing the organization with T-shirts, hats and other Dance Marathon gear.

Mackner said that one of the big misconceptions about Dance Marathon is the idea of it being a one day thing.

“We have a really big event on April 1st this year,” Mackner said. “But we raise money for the Children’s Hospital throughout the whole year.”

Students and community members run in the For the Kids 5k. Courtesy of Concordia Dance Marathon.
Students and community members run in the For the Kids 5k. Courtesy of Concordia Dance Marathon.

Concordia Dance Marathon hosts several fundraising events, and one of the bigger ones was held on campus during Family Weekend. The For the Kids 5K is an event anyone can participate in. According to Finch, Concordia Dance Marathon brought in over $1000 from this event.

The 5K registration fee for students was $15, and $25 for non-college students. It was also possible to register as a virtual runner, meaning people could do the race wherever they were, which cost

$20. “A lot of people on the leadership team had their families [run] at home,” Finch said.

While the race brings in a good amount of money, it’s much more than a fundraising event. It’s a way for Dancers to connect with Sanford families.

“We had a family from the hospital with a little kid who has been cancer-free for four-and-a-half years, so he came and told his story for everybody at the start line,” Finch said. “He told his story and then he ran [the 5K] with us.”

Some other upcoming events are “Trick or Trunk,” which will take place around Halloween, a black tie dinner, where sponsors will be invited, and what is simply called The Big Event on April 1st. The Big Event is a 12-hour fundraising event for students and Sanford families.

“We try to get them up there, the parents and the children, to tell stories about how what we are doing here has helped them,” Askvig said.

The students that are in Dance Marathon are standing or dancing for the 12 hours, which has a symbolic meaning.

“It’s meant to be something that is difficult or wearying on them, but, you know, it doesn’t really compare to anything that the families have had to endure,” Askvig said. In recent years the Battle of the Bands and the reveal of who is playing at Cornstock is held in combination with The Big Event. Concordia Dance Marathon hopes this will bring more students to the event, and thus raise more awareness about the organization.

Though it seemed very daunting at first, Askvig said he believes Concordia Dance Marathon will reach their goal of $36,650.

“The students have been really motivated, really committed, and we’re well ahead of what we were last year at this time,” Askvig said.

Last year the total amount raised was over $17,000.

“We have a goal that we want to reach, but whatever money we raise is still great,” Askvig said. “We would like to raise $100,000 and it would be amazing if we could, but we also see that if we raised $1000, that’s still $1000 that [Sanford Children’s Hospital] didn’t have before.”

Students who are interested can register to be a Dancer at any time. More information about registration and Concordia Dance Marathon in general can be found on their Facebook page.

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