Dance Marathon

Dance for a Chance: Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon program wins national award


Pauline Kistka '09 and Francesca Johnson '09, co-founders
of Saint Mary's Dance Marathon.
Last week the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon program honored Saint Mary's with its highest national award, the Incentive Award. The award recognizes the students who put on the College’s Dance Marathon, which benefits Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Saint Mary’s students brought the annual Dance Marathon to the College three years ago.

The most recent 12-hour long event was on April 4-5 and raised $85,000 for Riley; that’s more than the $68,000 raised in the first two years combined. Saint Mary’s is among the approximately 100 college and university campuses that hold Dance Marathons to benefit Children's Miracle Network hospitals.

For the founding members of Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon, the award recognizes three years of passionate service and hard work. “Our heart-felt purpose is to raise money for sick children who need the most optimal care, and our success is due to our wonderful, tight-knit community and dedicated committee members,” says senior Pauline Kistka. “It is all truly amazing and I just feel blessed to be a part of it,” she adds. Kistka and her friend and co-founder Francesca Johnson have served as the College’s Dance Marathon co-presidents since 2006.

“It’s really a year-round event,” says Johnson, a communications studies major. “We get to work on it during the fall, and the Marathon is the finale.” This yearlong operation requires planning and organization on the part of 92 student volunteers. In the fall, the students organized themselves into committees, including public relations and activities committees.

When a dancer signs up in the fall, Dance Marathon volunteers hand her a “dancer packet.” She agrees to participate in the dance marathon, and provides the letter-writing committee with the names of family and friends who would be willing to sponsor her. “A solid portion of our funds come from the letter-writing campaign,” says Johnson. Students on the committee write to the dancers’ families and friends to explain Dance Marathon and ask for their support.

Last semester’s Dance Marathon started at 8 p.m. on April 4 and lasted through 8 a.m. April 5. More than 300 students (dancers) from Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College, and the University of Notre Dame pulled the all-nighter in Saint Mary’s Angela Athletic Center. There was plenty of music, dance, games and entertainment to keep them going and three Michiana families whose children were treated at Riley’s shared their stories during the Marathon to motivate the participants.

For more about Dance Marathon at Saint Mary's, read about senior Maura Clougherty