IU Dance Marathon raised more than $2.9 million for Riley Hospital for Children,during its 30th anniversary celebration year. This total is now the sixth highest amount raised ever in the organization's three-decade history despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first-ever virtual IUDM, both live streamed and in person events featured a 12-minute line dance, stories from IUDM members, IUDM alumni and Riley children — and much fundraising.
8-10 p.m. Friday
The excitement and noise from last year’s marathon at the IU Tennis Center echoed as the live stream showed clips of many committees huddling in a circle, chanting and rallying each other up on the dance floor.
This year, there was no huddling, no chanting on the dance floor and no thousands of people swaying to the rhythm in the Tennis Center.
But the key ingredients of the dance marathon were not lost. Committee members met on Zoom to cheer for themselves and the event.
Juliana Sherburne, the vice president of Internal, said during the livestream the fact that the event is was even held this year shows its accessibility for all and how easy it is to celebrate.
The line dance was not lost either, as the live stream presented a 12-minute video performance by the Morale Committee in front of landmarks on IU campus. A dozen Morale Committee members wearing rainbow-colored IUDM T-shirts, bandanas, tutus — and masks — danced to songs old and new, from the 1980s hit “We Built This City” to TikTok-favorite “Renegade.”
The main events of the night wrapped up around 8:45 p.m. with children, their parents and staff at Riley Hospital for Children sharing their stories.
Chase Laman, 18, was one of the three Riley children featured in the first of many Riley Stories segments of the 36-hour marathon. Laman’s right arm was amputated right after birth, and he suffered from a stroke at a very young age, after which doctors at Riley told his parents he likely wouldn’t walk, talk or feed himself. But Jennifer Laman, Chase’s mother who told his story in a pre-recorded video, said they persisted with his treatment, and now he can play basketball and throw a baseball so hard it ends up in the neighbor’s yard.
“None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for you to go out of your comfort zone and fundraise,” Jennifer said to the IUDM community in the video. “You’re the people who will make this world a better place.”
2-5 p.m. Saturday
IUDM alumni sharing their memories in pre-recorded videos during the livestream said they felt the marathon was constantly evolving, but the connection that holds every member and participant together to fundraise for the kids stayed constant.
Ellen Voskoboynik, a member of the Executive Council for the 2017 IUDM, said when she participated in 2013, the marathon raised $2.6 million, which she thought was unmatchable. In 2017, it raised more than $4.2 million.
“IUDM has always been about including people, making people feel at home and making people feel comfortable,” she said in a pre-recorded video during the livestream.
At Dunn Meadow, students posed for pictures in a tent and wrote their messages on a signature board. The board read, “I dance so kids can …”
“Be unapologetically themselves,” one wrote. “Smile & dance with me!” another said.
COVID-19 health protocols were strictly abided by at the tent, one of the few places for in-person events in this year's marathon. Staff members checked each student’s temperature with an infrared thermometer, provided them with hand sanitizers and made sure all were masked.
“It’s amazing how people come together for the kids despite the challenges,” said Tyler Grace, vice president of communications.
The shock of COVID-19 was very hard to process for members of the IUDM, said director of logistics Courtney Carlson. But she said the continued enthusiasm of the student leaders of the marathon trickled down and eventually everyone borrowed off each other’s energy.
“It’s such a testament to the strength and resilience of this group,” she said. “Because the kids at Riley, they never gave up, and because they can do it we can do it too.”
7:30 a.m. Sunday
Amid a roaring crowd and speakers blaring Queen’s "We Are The Champions", the proceeds raised from the 2020 IUDM were revealed on Sunday, totaling to $2,905,188.23 — for the kids.
Students gathered in front of the 7:30 a.m at the IU Tennis Center to conclude the marathon, with signs revealing the grand total raised for the Riley Children's Hospital and acknowledging the efforts of IUDM members.
“We are so proud of all we have accomplished this year,” one speaker said.
Students roared as Executive Council hyped up those at the event, with some staff jogging through the parked crowd and encouraging students to make some noise. Cars were socially distanced throughout the parking lot. Many attendees hung out of car windows and peeked out from sunroofs, spotting friends among the crowd.
“Love you,” one student shouted to another.
Students who couldn’t hear the speakers tuned into 92.9, where they could hear the music and speech over their car radio.
Members built up to declaring their results. Each person in a line flipped up the sign they were holding one by one to reveal the final total.