Creighton’s seventh annual Dance Marathon was back in person on Saturday after having a virtual event last year due to COVID-19.
The event had 984 participants sign up and $47,481.92 raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, according to Assistant Director of Sorority Life for Leadership, Taylor Janicek. This amount of fundraising beat 2020’s event by over $5,000.
While there were many successes from the executive team’s point of view, there were also many challenges during the long months of planning.
“With COVID forcing our event last year to be mainly virtual, our participant numbers dropped significantly,” said Gretchen Jones, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-coordinator of Dance Marathon. “Our biggest obstacle this year was getting students excited about Dance Marathon as many students had never experienced an in-person Dance Marathon.”
The team discovered first-hand the lasting impacts of COVID-19 on Creighton’s campus and culture.
“...we were nervous about how the support would be from the Creighton community since it had been so long since we had an in-person event of this caliber...getting people invested and explaining why Dance Marathon is so special was hard, and at times demoralizing,” said Peggy Dunn, junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-coordinator of Dance Marathon.
These struggles impacted the planning and organization of the event, but the team used the reminders of the great work they were doing to keep them going and find joy on the day of the event.
“But, something about Dance Marathon puts a smile on my face year after year, without fail,” said Dunn. “As soon as people started arriving, and the event got rolling, I forgot how stressed I was about all of the little things and could finally just enjoy the day, and the fruits of our labor.”
The joy of the event was not present only for the executive team, but also for the Miracle Children and Creighton students. Cale Ferrin was in attendance for his fifth year as a Miracle Child with Kappa Kappa Gamma as his sponsor sorority, according to his mother, Briteny Ferrin.
“It felt amazing to be back in person,” said Cale. “I got to hang out and see some of the other Miracle kids that have been doing this for several years. We danced, played games, it was a lot of fun!”
They attendees were thankful for the opportunity to be in person for the event again and to see the hard work being done by the coordinators.
“There is so much work that is done to get this to be a successful event, and last year you just couldn’t really be a part of that,” said Briteny. “Being here, and around the students that are doing the work to coordinate and raise funds really helps to build the spirit of giving.”
Dance Marathon is known for its enjoyable activities and atmosphere, but for the families of Miracle Children and the hospitals who receive the fundraising, those are not the most important impact.
“Children’s Hospital has been a part of Cale’s life from birth until now (at age 15) and we wouldn’t feel as prepared as we do to handle the ‘big stuff’ without the care and support of such an amazing network of providers,” said Briteny. “When you have a devastating disorder that is very rare, it’s important to be able to have access to world-leading specialists to guide us through this roller-coaster of a life.”
Through the struggles of planning such a large-scale event on a post-COVID-19 campus, the management team was able to organize an event that reminded the Miracle Children of the efforts put forth to help through their dark times.
“I hope my journey inspires others to know that they can make an impact on the lives of these kids that are going through some of the worst moments of their lives,” said Cale. “Some of this fundraising and work goes for the whole year, and when you put that much work into such a fun dance party- of course I’m going to be there! They did such a great job!”
Applications for the 2022 Dance Marathon management team close Oct. 30.