Thousands of IU students in costumes cheer, cry and chant for hours at the IU Tennis Center during the 31st annual IU Dance Marathon.
The marathon started at 8 p.m. Friday and will last until 8 a.m. Sunday, lasting a total of 36 hours. The total amount of money raised for Riley Hospital for Children will be revealed at the end of the event.
Last year, IUDM was virtual, but it is back in person this year. IU senior Sam Eshenour has participated for multiple years, she said she is thankful she could participate in IUDM in person again.
“It has been 712 days since we have been in the Tennis Center,” Eshenour said. “It is very surreal and insane to be here during a pandemic and to be able to experience this.”
Participants wore different colors and costumes based on which of the 18 committee or dance teams they were a part of.
Riley Hospital for Children patients and their families were present and came on-stage to share their stories.
IU senior and IUDM dancer Emily Grecu said her favorite part is listening to the Riley stories in her multiple years participating in the marathon.
“I always cry during them,” Grecu said. “It’s so cool to see where our money is going and see that it is actually helping kids.”
Phillip King, IU senior and entertainment committee member, described his experience at Riley Hospital for Children during his sophomore year of high school. He said he had complicated pneumonia and a pleural effusion in right lung, leading him to spend three weeks and undergo four surgeries at Riley.
King said he learned to be thankful everyday for his health and to not take it for granted.
“Thank you guys for what you are doing,” King said. “If you know anybody who is going through a sick time or a hard time, be there to show them support.”
“There are people in the hospital right now that are struggling to do everyday things and I'm lucky it wasn't worse,” King said. “My condition wasn’t nearly as bad as other people who were fighting for their life.”
IU senior Lindsey McCoy said she participated in multiple dance marathons, both in high school and in college. She said she loves the energy and passion of everyone participating.
“I feel passionate about something that an entire group of people is passionate about too,” McCoy said. “That is something very cool and unique about this organization.”
When students aren't dancing, they play games and participate in competitions to raise more money. The fundraising initiative Runway for Riley has Riley children model different sweatshirts the first 130 participants to raise $310 during the marathon could win.
In another fundraising initiative, participants on the dance floor were separated into two groups and competed against each other to raise the most money. When a person raised $25, they ran and rang the bell on-stage and performed their best touchdown dance. During the 15 minute competition, the students raised $7,771.
Students are invited to ring the bell once for every $100 they raised during the marathon, with cheers each time the bell rings.