Dance Marathon comes to U

Proceeds from the marathon will benefit the family resource center, among others.

Emma Carew

For anyone who’s ever said “I could dance all night,” today is the day.

The group Students Today Leaders Forever is bringing the nationwide Dance Marathon program to Coffman Union Great Hall tonight.

Teams of students raised money and pledged to dance from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday to benefit Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care.

About 85 students have registered for the event, but students are welcome and invited to sign up at the door, event coordinator Brian Peterson said.

All of the money raised by tonight’s dance marathon will benefit the family resource center, the mobile outreach clinic and the adaptive technology department, said Andrea Melberg Thompson, a development associate for Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care.

“(At Gillette) we hope to make the children’s lives more independent and meaningful,” she said. “We hope to help them walk a little farther or communicate a little better.”

Sherri Wittrock, the mother of a Gillette patient, and her son Brandon, who has cerebral palsy, said she is excited to be attending tonight’s event. Hers is one of the families that will directly benefit from the proceeds of the dance marathon.

“He’s losing sleep over it,” she said. “Every day he counts down; he’s so excited.”

Brandon Wittrock has been a patient at Gillette for about four years, she said, and the programs at Gillette have made a substantial difference in their lives.

“He wants to talk to the University students,” Sherri Wittrock said of her son. “I think he just wants to show them what he’s all about.”

Most of the teams that pre-registered are made up of 10 to 12 members, Peterson said.

Some of them are greek houses, some are from residence halls, others are just groups of friends, event coordinator Kari Olson said.

Entrepreneurship junior Greg Tehven is heading the team from University Village. His team had a pre-dance party Thursday night to prepare for the marathon, he said.

“We’re trying to psych everyone up and build morale,” he said. “It’s just a fantastic way for us to get to know our neighbors and make a difference.”

There had been talk of Village People-themed costumes, Tehven said, but the team may settle for team headbands.

“I tip my hat to anyone who’s participating,” he said. “With finals coming up, it’s a big commitment. It shows the character of the students of the University of Minnesota.”

A morale dance will take place every hour to get people energized, Olson said.

“In those wee morning hours, people might need a few extra boosts of excitement,” she said.

Radio K is providing music throughout the night, and students can partake in nondance activities such as a Twister tournament, event coordinator Jordan Volk said.

University President Bob Bruininks and his wife are attending to help kick off the event, Volk said, and Miss Black USA, Celi Dean, will speak about her volunteer work with Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care.

Registration opens at 7 tonight and will go all night, Volk said. Students are asked to bring a $15 registration fee as well as any money they have raised (a minimum of $60 is requested, but all contributions are welcome).

The individual who raises the most money will win a spring break trip to London, Olson said.