IU to dance, honor life
Marathon to begin Friday, could draw more than 1,000
More than 1,000 IU students will forego sleep and, instead dance this weekend in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation gymnasium for the 15th annual IU Dance Marathon.
The 36-hour event that raises record amounts of money for Riley Hospital for Children -- $468,000 last year -- is the third largest dance marathon in the nation. Members of various student groups, largely from greek organizations, will commence the dance at 8 p.m. Friday night, said IUDM President Chris Carlson.
This year's IUDM takes on special meaning, especially to IUDM executives. IU student Ashley Crouse, who died in a car accident in April, served as vice president of communications for IUDM. Because of the magnitude of her service to IUDM, this year's event is in honor of her life.
"It would have been easy for everyone to take this year off, but we all saw the importance of the task at hand," said Carlson, who was also Crouse's boyfriend of two years. "That's what she would want."
Carlson said continuing on with IUDM despite Crouse's death has been essential coping with tragedy.
"This has kind of been my personal savior this year. I have IUDM to thank for everything," he said. "It's going to be a great weekend to remember her and the positive way she touched peoples lives."
Julie Greenbaum, dancer relations director, said Crouse's initials, ALC will appear in various mediums in the gymnasium, including on the IUDM sweatshirts.
"One sorority even had shirts made that say 'dancing for ALC,'" Greenbaum said.
Since 1991, IU students have raised more than $3 million for Riley Hospital for Children, with the totals increasing each year. While Carlson said he has high hopes, the trend will continue, the goal of the weekend is to consider the cause.
"The ultimate goal is never financial," he said. "It's always in honor of the children. We stand for them and anyone who's ever been afflicted with tragic illnesses."
Carlson said 24 children who are treated at Riley and their families will make appearances, and speeches, at the event.
"It's pure inspiration to see what some of these kids have gone through to be there," Carlson said.
In support of the children, Carlson said dancers must be standing for the entire 36 hours excluding meal times.
"It's kind of our way of sacrificing something," Carlson said. "Some of the children are wheelchair-bound and they don't have opportunity to stand for five minutes let alone 36 hours."
The money raised by IUDM participants goes to assist Riley in turning no patients away from care despite their financial standing.
Carlson said the majority of fund-raising is executed by means of letter-writing to friends and family asking for donations but that student groups will hold car washes barbecues to benefit the cause as well.
Even students not participating in IUDM this year are invited to the event. Live music from local musicians including Straight No Chaser and Ladies First will perform throughout the weekend. Carlson said there is even a special "visitor's section" so guests can come and enjoy the music. He expects about 5,000 visitors.
"Everyone is more than welcome," he said.
For more information on IUDM, visit www.iudm.org.
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