Dakotathon members prepare for 24-hour dance marathon
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Dakotathon members prepare for 24-hour dance marathon

Dakotathon is just over two weeks away, and fundraising for the charity event is starting to ramp up.

On April 23, dancers will be raising money over the course of 24 hours for the Children’s Miracle Network. Starting at 9 a.m., Dakotathon will host a number events to benefit Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Dakotathon is the largest student-run philanthropy at USD. The annual marathon organized lasts 24 hours to symbolize the restless nights “Miracle Children” and their families often experience.

In addition to dance participants, the event will be attended by 20 “Miracle Children” and their families.

There are more than 640 people participating this year, representing almost 10 percent of the student body. Dakotathon’s fundraising goal is $90,000 – which group organizers hope to eclipse.

Junior Audrey Truhe, one of two overall co-chairs for the organization, along with Senior Joey Snyder, hope this year’s marathon will beat the fundraising records of previous ones.

“It’s kind of a big after-prom party, but cooler,” Truhe said.

Events are held all year leading up to the 24-hour marathon to help raise money.

“Throughout the year we put on events, (including) jail and bail, pancake feeds and trivia nights to help raise money for the big event,” Snyder said.

The largest group that participates at Dakotathon are the dancers.

“There’s over 500 dancers signed up this year, and they all raise at least $150 over the year until the marathon,” Snyder said.

There will be around 40 morale captains on hand, who help keep “Miracle Children” and dancers going all throughout the day. Morale captains will also be teaching the morale dance to dancers throughout the day.

The morale dance is the big dance toward the end of the marathon that gives a morale boost to all the participants.  The dance will last five minutes, and is taught in sections throughout the event.

The morale co-chairs choreograph this dance at the beginning of the school year.  The dance is then taught to members of the executive team and morale captains.

Truhe said the planning process leading up to Dakotathon is intense.

“We meet to learn the dance every other week in the fall semester and every week in the spring semester,” Truhe said.  “People won’t realize how powerful the cause is if they don’t attend the marathon and hear the families talk about their struggles.”

Dakotathon will begin in the MUC Ballroom and will have participants go to the Vermillion High School and Middle School, the Wellness Center and the DakotaDome, among other locations.

At the beginning of each semester, members of the executive team create a rough outline of the events they’ll do each month.

Junior Robert McCauley helps plan events as the entertainment co-chair. He said this year’s Dakotathon will be one of the best.

“We’ll have dueling pianos, a snap boogie team and the USD men’s basketball team participating in the marathon,” said McCauley, whose personal fundraising goal is $1,000.

There will be a magician, hypnotist and a basketball game between the USD men’s team and the “Miracle Children.” A stuntman will also be making an appearance, which is a new attraction for this year’s marathon.

During the event, participants will be lighting remembrance sky lanterns to remember “Miracle Children” who’ve passed away.

Last year, Dakotathon exceeded its goal of $61,000, raising more than $84,000.

The money raised this year will go toward new equipment to help diagnose and treat patients at Sanford’s Children Hospital, the organizers said.

Snyder is excited for the big event, and encourages everyone to attend.

“It really is a big 24-hour party,” he said. “It’s a hell of a time.”