Dance Marathon headed to Simpson, helping families


by Laura Wiersema, News Editor

Every year, more than 250 schools across the country participate in Dance Marathon — not for school spirit or bragging rights or because the government mandates it — but for a good cause.

Now, it’s headed to Simpson College on April 2, 2016.

Started in 1991, Dance Marathon is a way for schools to make a difference in the lives of sick children in their area.

During a set time period, students raise money for families of sick children through local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. At the end of the fundraising period, a party is held where everyone stays on their feet and moving for the entirety of the event, which can be anywhere from 12 to 40 hours.

Hence, it becomes a Dance Marathon.

Junior Bailey Wilmes is spearheading the task of planning and organizing the six-month long program.

Wilmes was inspired by assistant professor of education Aryn Kruse, who previously taught at Loras College where Dance Marathon occurs every year. Once Kruse asked Wilmes to be the president of the group, Wilmes was eager to support the cause.

“We have five different committees that do different things throughout dance marathon,” Wilmes said.

Some committees work to find the 12 families to raise money for while others take care of the logistics regarding Dance Marathon itself, like choreography and costumes. Whatever the task, the goal is to unite Simpson students, faculty and staff in their efforts.

“I think that it gets the community involved in helping out a bigger cause,” Wilmes said.

Simpson will be working with the University of Iowa Hospitals to find families to benefit. Throughout the year, The Simpsonian will be featuring these families so students know who they’re raising money for.

Schools like University of Iowa, Grand View University and St. Ambrose University have participated in Dance Marathon for several years. 2016 will be the first year Simpson College has held their own, and Wilmes hopes it will continue in years to follow.

“Hopefully, the more it grows, the bigger and better it will be,” she said.

Though the families will be the ones benefitting from the event tangibly, the Dance Marathon team wants students to gain from the experience as well. There is an incredible amount of power in individuals united for a cause.

“It’s just a bigger cause than people think. There are so many kids who are sick that need help, that need that fundraising, that support, that livelihood in their life. And I think that when you dedicate yourself to raising money for a specific family or a specific 12 families it just gives you a little sense of gratitude,” Wilmes said. “I think it just makes people feel good that they’re helping a cause that’s bigger than them.”

Check back with The Simpsonian and every month for updates and features of the families.