The University of Wisconsin Dance Marathon student organization hosted its namesake event for the first time in its young history on April 23.

The group focuses on raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization that raises money and awareness for nearly two hundred different hospitals across North America specializing in the treatment of adolescent patients.

Throughout the year the UW Dance Marathon team fundraised just over $41,000 through individual efforts and partnerships with local businesses. The dance marathon event itself functions as a celebration of the group’s donating efforts and as one last fundraising push.

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This year’s three-hour-long event, which included stimulating activities like group choreography, silent discos and even a basketball shootout, represents a huge step forward for an organization looking to grow rapidly in the coming years.

In 1991, Dance Marathon was founded at the University of Indiana where it has since become one of the initiative’s largest programs nationwide. Since its conception, Dance Marathon has expanded to four hundred separate institutions — raising over $300 million for medical treatment for children.

Dance Marathon’s most notable followings are at schools such as Florida State University, South Carolina University and the University of Iowa — all of which often raise over a million dollars each year.

A major part of these programs’ success has been their ability to integrate Dance Marathon into the school’s culture, something which remains a long-term goal of UW’s organization, group member Liam McLean said.

“What is very exciting to me about Dance Marathon is that it has the potential to bring together different communities on campus that would otherwise lack interaction given the fractured structured of a large school like UW,” McClean said.

Accompanying the student leaders and participants was  Amber Lindsay who serves as a Cause Partnership Manager for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Once a Dance Marathon club member at Purdue University during her undergraduate career, Lindsay has followed-up with her college passion, turning it into a career.

“I had heard of the Dance Marathon at my school, but I never really thought anything of it at first. My friends finally convinced me to go one day, and I loved it,” Lindsay said. “It is amazing to think how large a role this organization would eventually play in my life.”

At the heart of bringing Dance Marathon to Madison is an executive board that has worked around the clock fundraising, spreading awareness, and coordinating events. The group’s motto “We move” is symbolic of the hard work put in to make this happen.

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Perhaps nobody embodies this mentality more than Junior Kallie Phipps who spoke about how individual passions and a strong motivation to leave a lasting impact on campus inspired her to take on such an ambitious initiative.

“Dance Marathon really fits my identity and passions,” Phipps said. “I really wanted to do something where I could leave a mark on campus and doing my part in bringing Dance Marathon to Wisconsin felt like a great way of doing just that,”

While this year’s Dance Marathon was an abbreviated event as the new chapter works to find its footing, big prospects for the future await with the group looking to expand its outreach throughout the different communities on campus. For more information and on how to join the initiative, be sure to follow UW Dance Marathon on social media and visit their webpage.