U-M students leave it on the floor during 30-hour Dance Marathon
After 26 hours, close to 1,000 University of Michigan students were still on their feet Sunday afternoon. They were participating in the 16th annual Dance Marathon in a quest to raise funds for children's therapy programs at both C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Beaumont Hospitals.
The marathon got underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at U-M's Indoor Track Building. Participants were rejuvenated about 14 hours into the marathon when the U-M basketball team defeated Syracuse in the Final Four to advance to the championship game Monday. (Here's a video link showing dancers reacting to the game's tense final moments.)
"It was crazy here and very stressful till they won," said sophormore Erik Peulicke, a dance marathon participant. "Hail to the Victors played and it was awesome!"
"The win brought the energy level up and people were dancing more, until at least 2 a.m.," said sophomore Ashley Howard, who said that she learned quickly that standing still doesn't work when you need to stay on your feet for 30 hours.
"I've been stretching constantly and hydrating," said Peulicke. "It's brutal but bearable."
"This is not a regular dance marathon where people dance in couples," explained Izzie Osiniecka, a community outreach coordinator for the Dance Marathon. "There is actually not dancing going on most of the time. Everyone just has to be on their feet for the entire 30 hours."
Music was playing, and dancers had the chance to learn line dancing, but they're spending a lot of their time on other activities and socializing.
Students passed beach balls, tossed volley balls and shot basketballs. They also line up to offer assembly line-style quick massages.
"Roll, roll, roll," shouted sophomore and volunteer masseuse Will O'Donnell to the line of students approaching on the mats. "We just keep going. It's for kids with disabilities so it feels good."
"It's great getting to meet the families who come to the marathon who will be helped by the money we raise," said Stacy Szymczak, a sophomore.
During the last four hours of the marathon, from noon-4 p.m. Sunday, participants were to debut "Stand With Us."
"Stand WIth Us is an initiative we are putting on this year to encourage the community to come and stand with us in the final four hours of our marathon," said Hanna Cottrell, a community outreach co-chair of the U-M Dance Marathon.
"Our goal is to fill the building to capacity to inspire and motivate our dancers through the end," said Jaclyn Harwood, also a community outreach co-chair.
Parent Shenal Smith came from Novi to show support for her daughter, Eryn.
"It's so cool to see kids doing something that's not about themselves," said Smith.
Osiniecka says she didn't yet know how much money will be raised this year but says that more than $500,000 was raised at last year's U-M Dance Marathon. It's the largest student-run nonprofit in Michigan.
Junior Sudeepti Rachakonda was participating in her third Dance Marathon, and looking forward to the finish.
"You get the best sleep ever after you do this!" she said.