Marathon dancing grew into a popular craze of the 1920s and ’30s before it was later vilified as inhumane.
But don’t confuse that with Saturday’s Dance Marathon. Organizers of the Kansas University charity event are quick to point out this is an entirely different deal.
“The whole event may be hard to grasp. I know that members of our executive board really didn’t know what was going on until we personally witnessed a marathon at Indiana University,” says Hilary Ferguson, a KU freshman and board member of Dance Marathon.
There will indeed be dancing at Dance Marathon, but other activities such as four-square and dodgeball tournaments are scheduled to take place.
“There’s a different event every hour,” Ferguson says. “If people don’t like to dance, there are many other things going on.”
The proceeds raised go to the Children’s Miracle Network, which will benefit Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital and KU Pediatrics. Participants are asked to stand on their feet for the duration of the evening to show support for those who are the focus of the charity.
“Families from the hospital are coming out. At the end, they’re going to tell their stories, so you can see where the money is going,” she says.
Dance Marathon originated in 1971 on the campus of Penn State University. Since then, the concept has spread to many campuses, where it generates over $10 million a year for local children’s hospitals and other charities.
“Our original goal was to raise $150,000, but we nixed that. And now we’re just aiming for getting as many people there to participate as we can,” Ferguson says.
The event stars at 8 p.m. Saturday (and runs until 8 a.m. Sunday) at the KU Recreation Fitness Center.
Interested participants can donate online at kidsmiracles.org/kudm, where they can also register to be a dancer. Participants receive free food from contributing restaurants and a T-shirt.