April 8, 9 a.m.
Students lined up in the Muenster University Center to check in for Dakotathon, a 24-hour long event celebrating the money raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
The money raised by USD students will go directly to Sanford Children’s Hospital.
Students who sign up to participate in Dakotathon are asked to raise $150 for the cause and have a whole year to raise the amount.
Before the total amount of money raised this year is revealed, 24 hours of dancing and fun will ensue.
To kick off the event, Miracle Children and members of the executive team for the event were announced.
This year’s theme, a sea of miracles, transformed the MUC into an ocean scene for the visiting children, who will spend the day with USD students.
The event is designed to let them have fun away from their usual routine of clinical visits and checkups.
Senior Allie Pfauth said it’s her first year participating in Dakotathon.
“It’s a great cause and something I haven’t done in the past, so it’s a great opportunity to learn something from these kids,” Pfauth said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the kids smile from ear to ear all day and just having fun.”
April 8, 2:30-4 p.m.
Dakotathon participants piled in Aalfs Auditorium for a magic show featuring illusionist Reza.
The illusionist performed several tricks, including escaping from a box. He also invited several members in the crowd to assist with some of his tricks.
Sophomore Ashlyn Hartman said the illusionist show was interesting, and said the events thus far have been worthwhile.
“Our kid that we are with seems to enjoy it and is having a lot of fun,” Hartman said. “It’s a great cause and it’s fun.”
Following the show, there were two family talks in Aalfs before the crowd walked to the Wellness Center. There, the Morale Dance and the Miracle Basketball Game began.
USD basketball members and children participants played against each other at the Wellness Center.
Hartman said Dakotathon is an important event.
“All these kids have such heart-wrenching stories and they all are happy and smiling,” Hartman said. “If this is what you can do to help them have a special day and raise money to help get them to where they are today, why not do it?”
Sophmore Brandi German said Dakotathon showcases the children that participate in it.
“It’s only one day throughout the year that they’re really the center of attention,” German said.
German and Hartman said they were planning to stay up during the entire run of Dakotathon.
April 8, 10 p.m.
The 24-hour dance marathon continued through the evening with more family talks and morale dances followed by a performance by the Midwest Dueling Pianos group in Aalfs Auditorium.
After the performance, the Dakotathon crew walked to the Wellness Center parking lot for a candlelight vigil.
Joy Haugan, the mother of Olivia, a miracle child, said that time of reflection is the most important part of Dakotathon.
A brother of Tanna Kingsbury, who lost her fight with cancer in 2014 at the age of 15, spoke during the vigil. Other names were read of those who’d lost their battles, and a moment of silence was held for them.
“We know some of the kids and we are so thankful and blessed that our daughter’s name isn’t on that list,” Haugan said. “It also reminds us again that it is so real and you know, we’re here this weekend. We’re having a great time celebrating, but it could very well have been the other way for us, too.
Haugan and husband Ryan’s daughter, Olivia, had cancer when she was two years old. When she went through treatment, they met many of the families they’re able see at Dakotathon.
Olivia had to think hard about what her favorite part of the day was since it’s her favorite part of the entire year, her mother said.
But the fact that she and other miracle children got to ride around in style was not overlooked.
“Hm…I liked riding in the limos,” Olivia said.
Haugan expressed her gratitude for USD and the students involved in the event.
“I know it takes a lot of students and faculty and everybody,” she said. “But it’s just amazing and we appreciate being asked to join you and we appreciate all of the time and effort it takes to put this on.”
April 9, 7 a.m.
Having stayed up all night, most of the faces at Dakotathon looked tired but awake. At 7 a.m., the students at Dakotathon participated in a morale dance.
The dancing lasted about half an hour and featured many different genres and styles of music.
“I’ve been up almost all night, hanging out and enjoying the time,” said Derek Hammer, a dancer at the event. “Most of them seem really happy and glad to be here with us.”
Dancers were the largest part of the crowd early in the morning, who were immediately recognizable in their bright blue shirts.
“The dancers are the largest part of the actual event,” said sophomore Tim Flynn, another dancer at the event. “We’re just kind of the large mass of the event.”
After the dancing, the students were given breakfast, during which they were given the chance to write inspirational cards to the children who will be benefiting from the money raised. A choir also came and sang.
“It’s been long. It’s been really fun though,” Flynn said. “It’s definitely incredible. It’s not like anything I’ve done before. I’ve done other philanthropy, and it’s just such massive impact. It’s really something.”
April 9, 8:30 a.m
It was the closing ceremony of the 24-hour dance marathon as everyone filled the MUC ballroom to end the celebration and find out the amount raised by this year’s event.
After watching a video compilation of past Dakotathon events along with pictures and videos from the years, awards and prizes were handed out.
Dean of students Kim Grieve joined the student leaders on stage to thank everyone that participated before the children lined up on stage to reveal what everyone was waiting to find out: if the goal was met.
The original goal of $115,000 was surpassed by about $30,000 for a grand total of $145,422.55.
“It just shows how much can be done when people come together,” said Conrad Adam, one of the event’s student executives. “It’s truly amazing to see.”