Did You Know?: Purdue University Dance Marathon

November 6, 2013  


Purdue University Dance Marathon

Students dance during last year's Purdue University Dance Marathon, an annual event that benefits Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. This year's marathon will take place from 6 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 9) until noon Sunday (Nov. 10) in the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. (Purdue University photo/Allyson Corbat)
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More than 2,000 Purdue students will participate this weekend (Nov. 9-10) in the Purdue University Dance Marathon, which since 2005 has raised more than $1 million for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

The dance marathon will take place from 6 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 9) until noon Sunday (Nov. 10) in the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Its student organizers hope the event will raise an additional $1 million, which will benefit the hospital, its cancer research fund and Camp Riley. The camp provides specialized activities and enrichment for children with physical disabilities.

Since its inception in 2005, the annual, student-organized dance marathon has grown from about 100 dancers and $1,500 raised to more than 1,800 dancers and more than $500,000 raised in November 2012. The event's growth is poised to continue this year and in the future, says Daniel McNelis, the dance marathon's public relations executive.

"The main reason I think the event has grown is the great cause it supports, and that's to give children a second chance," McNelis says. "Overall, people dance for different reasons, but we all support the cause because no other event allows students to make a difference like PUDM does."

The event's dancers -- who are students from several on-campus organizations, including fraternities and sororities -- begin raising money as early as January. Donors range from individuals to local businesses to area high schools, which often conduct their own smaller dance marathons to help raise money for the larger event.

This year, organizers will continue to invite local children who have been treated at Riley and their families to attend the event in an effort to let dancers meet those they are benefiting, McNelis says.

One such "Riley family," as the organizers call them, includes Melissa Swathwood, whose 9-year-old son, Carter, was hospitalized at Riley in October 2009 with a severe respiratory illness. Swathwood is a research and faculty secretary in the School of Nursing.

Swathwood and her family have been raising money for this year's event since March, she says. So far, between bake sales, a lemonade stand and homemade bracelets, the family has raised more than $3,000.

During the event, Carter also will be recognized as a "Riley Champion" -- a designation given to those who have gone above and beyond to raise funds for the cause. Swathwood says Carter was elated when the event's organizers awarded him that honor.

She says the family will continue to be involved in the event in the years to come.

"These students are like our family now," Swathwood says.

"It's a great event, particularly for families like ours because it shows that there is hope. There are a lot of people out there who care and are giving back. To us, that's what the dance marathon is about."

This year's event will be live streamed on the dance marathon's website, www.pudm.org, where there is more information and a donation link.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, ahamon@purdue.edu, 49-61325

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