Students to bring ‘Dance Marathon’ philanthropy project to K-State

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A yearlong dance marathon may, at first, sound like a daunting and perhaps sweaty challenge. Two students on campus see it instead as a commitment to help children in need. Jared Wylan, senior in communication studies, and Tom Fredrickson, senior in journalism and mass communications, are now urging students to become a part of the nationwide ‘Dance Marathon’ philanthropy community.

“We’ll raise money to go to local places, like St. Francis Hospital in Topeka,” Fredrickson said. “The point is to help children, and our goal is to make this big enough to donate on national levels.”

Dance Marathon groups around the nation all raise funds for their local hospitals in order to support children with leukemia and other illnesses. In addition to fundraising, Dance Marathon volunteers engage in activities with and visit sick children, organize canned food drives and work with local businesses to create fundraising events throughout the community.

“Our events would include working with the Union,” Wylan said. “Off-campus would include working with places like Kite’s, inviting participants from Topeka here and asking businesses to donate proceeds to us.”

The whole program includes over 150 high schools and colleges. Beginning in the late 1970s, Dance Marathon rose to become one of the nation’s leading philanthropic groups. Wylan found out about the program from another school.

“One of my best friends goes to the Univeristy of Iowa, and I was up there when theirs was going on,” Wylan said. “I saw how big it was, and I’ve never seen a whole campus be involved in anything like that; I’ve never seen that at K-State.”

Wylan and Fredrickson believe that K-State definetely fits as a school that would support the program.

“This would be something great for K-State,” Fredrickson said. “It would be great for the community. It’s a good cause.”

Some aspects of K-State’s Dance Marathon are complete, such as the Twitter account @DanceKSU. The program also has an advisor, Kelly Welch, assistant professor of family studies and human service.

“Kelly is really outgoing and well-liked by the student body,” Fredrickson said. “She has huge classes here and she’s been helping to get our word out there on campus.”

Members of Dance Marathon, titled ‘Dancers,’ are involved in quite a bit of activity, both dancing and otherwise.

“We’ll have two on-campus events and two off-campus activities per month,” Wylan said. “It will be similar to what other organizations on campus do now, but for an entire year.”

One of the biggest benefits of the Dance Marathon is that it lasts for a year, according to Wylan. The volunteering involvement doesn’t stop after a certain time committment is reached.

“Probably 70-80 percent of the students at Iowa participate throughout the entire time,” Wylan said. “I wanted to bring that to K-State because I feel there is nothing like that.”

After all of the volunteering throughout the year is done, there is in fact a dance.

“We do have a big dance-off at the end when we’re counting up the total number of raised funds,” Fredrickson said. “But the name comes from always being active, always being on your feet.”

Fredrickson also said not to be fooled by the title.

“It’s a common misconception people think when they hear about it,” Fredrickson said. “They think, ‘I can’t dance so I can’t participate.’ Anyone can participate.”

Wylan and Fredrickson are looking for more students interested to start an executive board. After that core group is formed, activities will begin. The dancing is open to anyone.

Alumni can participate, and they can donate,” Wylan said. “People from the community of Manhattan can too—you can just be a regular citizen.”

For more information about the K-State Dance Marathon, you can follow @DanceKSU. Wylan and Fredrickson hope that K-State’s community will soon have as many Dance Marathon participants as the University of Iowa.

“I really like reaching out and helping; it’s right up my alley,” Fredrickson said. “I think it’s a great idea.”

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