U Dance Marathon brings in $5,800

The funds will be used to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

Dance Marathon at the University of Minnesota, a philanthropic student group, held their big fundraiser Saturday in the Great Hall of Coffman Union.

Marisa Wojcik

Dance Marathon at the University of Minnesota, a philanthropic student group, held their big fundraiser Saturday in the Great Hall of Coffman Union.

by Claire Bramel


 The University of Minnesota’s annual Dance Marathon wrapped up Saturday after raising more than $5,800 for the University’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital and One Heartland for HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness.

The marathon began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 10 p.m. in Coffman Union’s Great Hall. Dancers were required to raise $50 to guarantee them a spot on the dance floor.

According to online registration, 100 people signed up to participate and Bethany Hiemenz, co-director of Dance Marathon, said that roughly 50 additional people arrived on the day of the fundraiser

This is the second year that Dance Marathon has been on campus. In previous years, the Mall of America served as a venue for the then-Dance Your Heart Out, which many University students attended but was open to the public.

While a new event to the University, all Big Ten schools host an annual dance marathon.

Last year, more than 100 dancers participated in the marathon held at the University Hotel, where they raised more than $11,000. Unlike this year, those participants were required to raise $100 prior to dancing.

Senior engineering major Evan Symons and Hiemenz, a junior child psychology major, served as co-directors for Dance Marathon 2012. For five months, the two lead planning efforts for the fundraiser along with a committee of other University students. Hiemenz said the committee managed everything from gaining sponsors to applying for grants to marketing the marathon.

“Our main goal this year was to get people involved with Dance Marathon and get the word out,” she said. “We were really supported by other student groups who danced, performed, made signs and even DJ-ed the event.”

One Heartland, a nonprofit that supports programs like summer camps for children affected by HIV/AIDS, has been a beneficiary for the past five years, said Nicholas Boerum, the organization’s development manager.

One Heartland has partnered with many student groups over the past 20 years in addition to educating incoming freshmen with informational programs during Welcome Week. Boerum said hosting the fundraiser at the University helps increase student awareness about children who are HIV-positive or suffer from AIDS.

“We are able to really put a face to the issue and help connect the student to the child,” Boerum said.

Senior biology major Cassie Meyer participated in the fundraiser on campus both years and said the marathon had a big impact on her. Last year the group brought in children affected by HIV/AIDS to talk to participants. She said hearing about their experiences was surreal.

“I decided to come back again this year because I honestly feel like the Dance Marathon is doing an awesome thing for these kids,” Meyer said.