Lauren Soulek and Cheyenne Alexis
April 22, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
A long day and night filled with Dakotathon festivities and dancing ended with a record breaking morning.
Dakotathon participants gathered in the Muenster University Center Ballroom for one final performance of their morale dance at 8:30 a.m. after listening to the last few Miracle Family stories. The dance marathon ended with a video recap of the day, a performance by the USD High Howlers and the reveal of the amount of money fundraised throughout the year.
The Miracle Children flipped around boards to reveal that $184,239.21 was raised, beating their goal by $30,000 and breaking a record of $1 million raised in total throughout the 21 years that Dakotathon has been happening.
Kiara Harkema, a Dakotathon morale captain, said beating the goal was an amazing feeling. She said she does the dance marathon for more smiles.
“I love kids and it breaks my heart when some of the kids go through what they go through,” Harkema said. “When they come here and spend the day with you, it means even more because you get to meet them and get to see them and they get to see you.”
Jackson Shriver, external overall chair of the Dakotathon executive team, said his favorite part of the day is seeing the numbers flip at the end.
“Its not necessarily how much money we’ve raised and our individual success,” he said. “Throughout the entire event we hear how important it is to our families and how life saving those donations are.”
Shriver said he dances for a future where kids can just be kids.
“Children spend their entire lives in hospital beds just trying to survive,” Shriver said. “That shouldn’t have to be a thing. I can’t wait for a day where Dance Marathon doesn’t have to exist because childhood diseases is eradicated.”
April 21-22, 11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
The Dakotathon festivities continued throughout the night with morale dancing, a hypnotist show and a family talk.
The participants danced the night away and learned more moves to the morale dance in the Muenster University Center Ballroom at 11 p.m.
Next, the dancers and families moved to Aalfs Auditorium for a midnight hypnotist show with Jim Wand, where several USD student participants were able to be hypnotized in front of the crowd.
Bridger Irons, a sophomore dancer for Dakotathon, said though he didn’t know what to expect when participating, the experience has been fun.
“Learning the dance has been a lot of fun and just getting to spend a lot of time with that little brother (Miracle Child),” he said. “It’s great to mess around and hang around.”
Irons said though the hours are getting later, he’s prepared for the reveal at the end of the day.
“That’s the light at the end of the tunnel we’re trying to see,” he said. “Dakotathon is a great event and I hope that we get people involved every year and raise more money.”
April 21, 3-4 p.m.
Magic, dancing and storytelling were just several events occurring at USD’s annual Dakotathon event Saturday afternoon.
Dakotathon Day began at 9 a.m. on April 21 and will end 9 a.m. April 22. Dakotathon is USD’s 24-hour dance marathon that celebrates the money raised for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Students who choose to participate in Dakotathon are asked to start a fundraiser at the beginning of the school year with a goal of $174. All of the money raised will go to the Sanford Children’s Hospital.
This year, with the theme Miracles on the Moon, there are 35 teams and 704 participants.
Throughout the day, students, Miracle Families and alumni participate in different entertainment events in between learning the miracle dance and listening to the stories of the Miracle Families.
David Farr visited Aalfs Auditorium at 2 p.m. to put on a magic show for the children, families and participants. Afterward, the crowd moved to the MUC Ballroom to practice their dance routine and listen to several Miracle Children’s stories.
Libby Bullerdick, Dakotathon executive board member, said she was a dancer for two years and is now the sponsorship chair.
“I’ve just grown a deeper appreciation for what Dakotathon does and what the Children Miracle’s Network does,” she said. “It’s an amazing organization that benefits a lot more people than we think it does.”
Last year, more than $145,000 was raised for CMN. Bullerdick said the goal this year is $152,000. She said if the goal is reached, it will mark $1 million that USD’s Dakotathon has given CMN in the 21 years the event has been happening.
“Figuring out how much we raised is probably the most nerve-wracking and exciting 10 seconds of the whole 24 hours,” Bullerdick said.
Skye Gade, a Dakotathon dancer, said this was her first year participating in Dakotathon. Gade, a member of Alpha Phi, said each sorority and fraternity are given one or two Miracle Children for the day. She said they spend the day with them and make them pillowcases in their honor.
“I didn’t know if I’d enjoy this,” Gade said. “I’ve cried multiple times today but the kids make it all worth it.”