By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Dancing for four hours straight can be a little tiring, Allison Davis said, but she loves dances — especially when they’re held for a good cause.
A senior at Regina Junior/Senior High School in Iowa City, she was among coordinators for a mini-dance marathon the school held March 6 to raise money for cancer patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. About 100 students danced, played games and prayed during Regina’s first such event, which raised $5,360 for child oncology patients.
“It was a blast,” said senior Zoey Salisbury. She suggested the fundraiser to classmates after volunteering last year to help with an annual 24-hour dance marathon at the University of Iowa to benefit children with cancer. Schools can hold shortened versions of the event, and Salisbury said she thought Regina would be “perfect” to do so.
Davis said students spent at least two months planning the mini-dance marathon, which juniors and seniors coordinated. All seventh- to 12th-graders split into teams that competed to raise money; each student had to receive at least $25 in pledges to take part in the dance.
Jean days, free T-shirts and gift cards provided fundraising incentives. Students aimed to raise $5,000.
The evening of the event, students began by praying and watching a video of a child cancer patient. For about the next four hours, participants danced amid strobe lights to DJ-provided music and played games including musical chairs. In a mini-fundraiser, some students competed to see how long willing classmates could be duct-taped to a wall.
“Everybody liked it,” Salisbury said of the evening. Dancing grew a little harder as hours passed, “but you had to make it to the end when we revealed how much money was raised.” When the total — $5,360 — was shared, “people screamed. It was really a big deal for us.”
Davis was surprised. “When I’d last seen the amount raised a couple days before, it was $2,000. So people must’ve really stepped up at the last minute.”
“It was a tribute to the entire high school, led by our intrepid dance marathon team, that we exceeded our goal of $5,000 in our first year,” said Kathy McCue, Regina’s campus minister and faculty coordinator for the event. She said Salisbury and Davis were “tireless advocates” for the dance’s mission, which was imprinted on students’ T-shirts: “We are part of something bigger, and we are part of it together.”