Shelby: In 1991, a group of students in Bloomington, Indiana got together to honor a friend who died of AIDS. They raised $10,000 for a local children’s hospital just by busting some moves on the dance floor. Today, it is the second biggest charity run by students in the entire country, and Scott Evans went there to see what it is all about.
Scott: You have heard of marathons where you run…
Oh, that is rain! Not today.
…Or even ones that show episodes of your favorite show back-to-back-to-back…
Ha-ha! The Kardashians.
But have you ever heard of a dance marathon? I traveled to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana to find out for myself.
What is Indiana University’s dance marathon?
Katie Speer: It’s a year-long fundraising effort that culminates in a 36-hour dance marathon where students come and they stand for the whole 36 hours, and they don’t sleep, to show support for the kids at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Scott: Don’t sleep?
Katie: Don’t sleep for 36 hours.
Scott: The event is spread out over a weekend, and 3,500 student participants move through three stations: dance class, floor games and a refueling station.
Dancers learn a 10-minute routine set to a mash-up of songs played throughout the night. Now, I thought 10 minutes sounded like a lot, but when you have 36 hours to learn it, it couldn’t be that bad, right? Okay. Maybe 10 minutes is a lot.
I need some practice…a lot, a lot of practice.
But aside from doing a lot of dancing, this event also donates a lot of money.
Katie: Over 14 million has been raised. Last year alone, we raised 2.1 million.
Scott: It was a record-breaking year for the group. And this year, the goal is even more ambitious.
Katie: I have a high goal. I would love to see us hit 2.5 million.
Scott: The IU Dance Marathon is the second largest non-profit organization run by students.
Patients of the children’s hospital, known as Riley kids, hit the stage to share their stories of triumph, encouraging the dancers to stick it out and reminding them why their work is so important.
Katie: A lot of Riley kids compare it to Christmas and say it’s their second-favorite day of the year. So we just come here, we dance, we celebrate and we have a great time.
Scott: Even the Indianapolis Colts were in the building to lend a helping hand. Long snapper Matt Overton says his connection to the hospital is personal.
Matt Overton: Riley is dear to my heart. I know a lot of these kids, I know a lot of these families. I’ve created very close personal bonds with them. And I’m here to support it.
Scott: So while the dancers take a break from, well, all the dancing, I caught up with IUDM veteran Leah Tribbett.
Why was it important for you to be here and be here dancing for 36 hours?
Leah Tribbett: It’s the least we can do to give them this time of our effort and strength when they are fighting for their lives, you know, every single day.
Scott: Simple but clear inspiration. Then it was time for the big reveal. The final total raised more than $2.6 million, surpassing their goal and a new record for the IUDM.
And Katie has a bit of advice for anyone who thinks it takes huge efforts to make a difference.
Katie: Seventy percent of our total is raised by donations under $50. We are just sort of the example that every little bit matters so much.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Shelby: The dance marathon is proof that every single one of us can make a difference. If you want to give back, we have a ton of ideas for you over on the Impact page at Channelone.com.