Area college students unite to raise money at Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon

Students from Mount Mercy University, Coe College, and Kirkwood Community College united for the second annual Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon on April 14 in Hennessey Recreation Center at Mount Mercy.  The student-run philanthropic organization broke last year’s record and raised $25,691.80, which will benefit The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.

The 12 hour event featured a DJ, live music, games, toys and dancing, and brought students from all three institutions together to celebrate with the families that will benefit from the funds raised.

Mount Mercy’s Residence Hall Director and Co-Advisor for Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon Kristen Roppolo said the experience allowed students to have fun while accomplishing something good that would touch the lives of sick children.

“The students had a blast dancing with the kids – it’s really good for them to interact with the families. Children being sick isn’t something people think about very often,” Roppolo said.

Coe College’s Wendy Steffen, co-advisor of Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon, said this year’s event raised approximately $200 more than last year’s fundraiser. In its first two years Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon has raised a total of $51,194.76 for The University of Iowa Hospitals according to Steffen. She was happy to see the students work together and said that for many of the children, the event feels like Christmas.

“When the kids come they know they are going to dance and have a good time,” Steffen said. “It’s good for the families to be there and see the students standing and showing support for them.”

Brian and Jenny Olson were one of the families in attendance Saturday. Their three year old son, Will, was diagnosed with stage three liver cancer in August 2010. The family received good news this month as Will approached the one-year mark of remission with no evidence of disease.
“We never realized that college students would play such an important role in Will’s journey – it takes off so many burdens,” Jenny Olson said.

Mount Mercy sophomore Sara Moser has participated in Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon for the last two years and said seeing the children and meeting the families made her emotional.

“Hearing the stories really puts into perspective all that the kids have to go through,” Moser said. “It makes you want to raise so much more money for the kids.”

Cedar Rapids Dance Marathon started in 2011, and is the first multi-school dance marathon in the nation, rotating amongst participating institutions in an effort to raise funds for children and their families battling illness and disease.

To see video highlights of the event, find Mount Mercy on Vimeo.

To see photos of the event, check out Mount Mercy’s Facebook page.

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