MU Dance Marathon raises funds 'For The Kids'

he organization raised more than $3,000 during its recent "For The Kids" Day.

Twelve hours, 500 plus dancers, zero grams of caffeine and more than $47,000. Although it might sound like a numbers game, the MU Dance Marathon is about much more than that. It’s for the kids.

MU Dance Marathon was established in 1994 and is a student-run organization that is part of a national philanthropy. For nearly two decades, participants have remained on their feet for 12 hours, dancing for children who can’t.

“For several years, the event took place downtown at The Blue Note, but began losing focus and disaffiliated in 2005,” said Carly Love, MUDM public relations director. “In 2007 it was brought back to Mizzou, putting the focus back on the kids.”

The MU-based chapter works directly with the Children’s Miracle Network to raise money for the Hematology/Oncology Department at the MU Children's Hospital.

The MUDM team is broken into two groups: the 30-member steering committee and the 30 morales. The steering committee manages technical issues such as budget, sponsorships, catering and entertainment while the morales keep the energy high.

To raise funds, MUDM sells “Cancer Sucks” T-shirts as well as watches and wristbands. Additionally, the team set up a “For the Kids” Day in downtown Columbia, fundraising co-chairwoman Alli Inglebright said.

“We sold wristbands for $10 each, then people could take those wristbands into different downtown businesses and receive discounts and specials,” Inglebright said.

According to the MUDM website, "For the Kids" Day alone netted more than $3,000 for the cause.

MUDM yielded a positive reaction from the community with more than 30 local businesses, including Shakespeare’s Pizza, YogoLuv and Red Mango, jumping on the opportunity to join the fight.

The generosity didn’t stop there. MUDM garnered $10,000 exclusively in online donations through its newly revamped website, Inglebright said.

With the main event less than a month away, the momentum is building. Graduate student Annamarie Bastida has been working with MUDM for three years, taking on a variety of duties. She now holds the other fundraising chair position alongside Inglebright. This year, the organization has set its goals higher than ever before, Bastida said.

“In 2008, we pledged to raise $100,000 over the next five years, and as of Dance Marathon 2011, we’ve already donated $61,000,” Bastida said. “I hope to have us hit well over that $100,000 this year.”

MUDM is using social networking to advertise the event, Love said.

“We’re really focusing on getting the word out and getting people excited,” Love said. “Our Facebook page, Twitter and plasma screen advertisement in the student center have received positive reception.”

After planning and crunching numbers for nearly a year, members of the MUDM will put on their dancing shoes and join the participants on the Brewer Courts at the Student Recreation Complex.

“When you’re at the main event and the energy is high and a family comes on stage to speak, that’s when you realize what it’s all about,” Bastida said. “Seeing those kids dance on our stage, when not long ago they wouldn’t have been able to dance because they were so sick, is the reason why I do Dance Marathon.”

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