IU Dance Marathon competes for national philanthropy award
After more than 20 years of hosting dance marathons on campus to raise money for the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, IU Dance Marathon may soon find itself under a spotlight of its own.
At the beginning of the summer, StayClassy notified IUDM it was nominated for the Most Influential College Student or Organization for the third annual Classy Awards. StayClassy is an online social fundraising site that helps to promote
Out of 2,000 submissions, IUDM is a top-25 finalist.
From now until Aug. 26, the public can vote online for IUDM to land in the top 10 and go to San Diego for what is considered the country’s largest philanthropic award ceremony.
“The fact that we’re being recognized, potentially on a national level, at this point is pretty huge for us,” Michael Essling, president of IUDM, said. “Now it’s really big for us, and we have a more realistic possibility that we could actually win.”
Despite raising more than $10.1 million for the Riley Hospital for Children since 1991, IUDM did not nominate themselves for the StayClassy award.
IUDM’s Director of Public Relations Kristin Munoz said, at the beginning of the summer, a StayClassy intern from Kentucky had nominated them.
Munoz then completed the application process through which she had to generate at least 100 Facebook “likes” for the IUDM submission. According to the StayClassy website, there were 266 Facebook “likes” on Aug. 10.
One of the ways to get people to vote for them online in the summer, when campus attention isn’t as easy to garner, is to use social media.
“Twitter helps a lot,” Munoz said.
Winners for the award must demonstrate 20 percent originality, 20 percent impact and 60 percent ability to exemplify the qualities of the award category, according to the StayClassy website.
The description of the award category outlines an “undergraduate student or student-run college organization that has most powerfully put the idealism and energy of youth to work in service of others.”
“When I was involved 10 years ago, we had 200 committee members and nearly 600 dancers involved,” said Matt Sowder, president of the IUDM Alumni Board and former director of Riley Development.
“Today, they have over 500 committee members, 1,200 plus dancers as well as other volunteers. That sounds powerful to me.”
A recent example of IUDM’s impact on the Riley Hospital for Children, Sowder said, is the newly initiated fundraising effort for pediatric infectious disease research positions
Sowder said this effort may now lead to solutions for pediatric diseases
beyond the Midwest.
“The Indiana students put a ton of work into everything that we’ve accomplished,” Essling said. “It’s kind of cool if our participants and all the work the dance marathon does every year can get a little more recognition on a national level.”
The award ceremony, fashioned after a Hollywood red carpet event, takes place Sept. 17, at the San Diego Civic Theater. The prize for Most Influential College Student or Organization is $10,000.
Sarah Jenkins, the Riley coordinator for dance marathons, said IUDM has already received recognition where it most matters: the Riley Children’s Hospital.
“The students involved with IUDM have a passion that is unmatched,” Jenkins said. “And that in itself is an incredible impact to all of us at the foundation.”
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