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Loyola Dance Marathon Raises More Than $40,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital

Written By: Natalie Schiltz, Executive Director, Loyola University Chicago Dance Marathon

Dance Marathon is an organization unlike any other. Being a completely student run philanthropic organization, it can be difficult to secure support and funding for an event. As Executive Director of Loyola University Chicago Dance Marathon, I am still astounded by the generosity of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. Their dedication to the kids is incredible, and their support is what gave Loyola University Chicago Dance Marathon the chance to have a successful event.

Throughout the event, our dancers had the opportunity to participate in many activities. Of course there was dancing; we had an incredible DJ to help keep our dancers excited throughout the event. We also had games for the dancers including water pong, a giant twister board and cornhole bags. We had a section of the room that was specifically geared towards social media, giving our dancers the opportunity to take pictures, videos, and send messages to their families and friends about what they were doing at the event. We had a “Why I Dance” video campaign throughout the event, where dancers could record a video discussing why they were participating in the event. We had props and backdrops for students to take pictures with, giving them content to post on their own social media pages to talk about Dance Marathon.

One of my favorite parts of the event was the inspiration room; a room dedicated to our kids and our hospital. The room was dark, except for strands of white lights near the ceiling and tea light candles on the tables. This room had miracle stories playing from Lurie Children’s, printed out copies of some of our kids’ stories, and pictures of our families. Dancers could go into this room at any time to learn more about our cause, and almost every dancer that did left in tears.

Our miracle families spent most of the event interacting with the rest of the dancers. Some of our older kids got to run the “Dancer Jail,” where they could send event participants that were not dancing. The kids also tried to learn our morale dance, played games with the dancers, and took lots of pictures with the participants. Each family got their chance to get up and tell their story, connecting each of our dancers with the real reason why we dance; for the kids!

Loyola University Chicago Dance Marathon is a unique program to work with. The university as a whole does not do much to support student organizations and help them succeed. Without the generosity of Love’s, Loyola University Chicago Dance Marathon simply would not have happened. The funds and support provided by this company were the driving force behind our team this year. After receiving so much pushback from our university, losing our venue multiple times, and facing obstacle after obstacle, I am so incredibly proud to say that we were able to raise $40,191.62 for the patients and families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and host 240 dancers. Because of the kindness and benevolence that was shown to us by Love’s, we were able to create hope for the kids. Because of Love’s, our event was possible. I am forever thankful to this company for giving us the opportunity to expand and develop our program through the funds they donated. Thank you for taking a chance on a group of students that wanted to change the world, we hope we’ve made you proud.