Dance Marathon and UNI alumni, Brenna (Bush) Huggins, answered some questions about how involvement in Dance Marathon has impacted her life.
Background Info: My name is Brenna Huggins (formally Bush) and I graduated from UNI in 2013. My last year at UNI, I served as one of the Co-Executive Directors of Dance Marathon.
Why and how did you get involved with Dance Marathon? One of my good friends Emily Hanson and I started UNI Dance Marathon with only a few committee members. Now, hundreds of people are involved and supporting so many families across the Cedar Valley!
What was your favorite part about being involved? Seeing how it it affects so many lives. Not only the families and the kiddos, but hundreds of college students at UNI. You don't think you can make a difference by attending one event, once a year. Yet each year I attend, I'm amazed how many beautiful memories are made, how many people make a difference, and how much money we raise FTK!
Describe one of your favorite memories about Dance Marathon. I can remember our first year, after hundreds and hundreds of hours we put into planning we raised over $50,000, which was unheard of for a first year DM. I can remember at the big reveal, knowing how much money we raised going to my knees and crying uncontrollably. Not just because we broke a record, but because all of the families we supported would be receiving that money in hopes that their kiddos would get better at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. It was an unforgettable experience and one that I will never forget.
In what way(s) did Dance Marathon impact your college experience? I think it really prepared me for life after college. It allowed me to prioritize my time since I was working, going to school, and planning a Dance Marathon. It also really helped me to become more marketable in the job market. You meet so many amazing people, asking for sponsorships for the big day of, and encouraging students to sign up. It was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone at UNI.
How has your experiences with Dance Marathon continued to impact your life? I was so proud to be a part of the first two Dance Marathons, but to see where it's going and how many lives we continue to change is so unbelievable. I'm so proud of all of the hundreds of students who volunteer so much of their time for others. To be part of change in my community will continue to be something I do even after UNI Dance Marathon.
Why should current students sign up for Dance Marathon? I would encourage anyone to sign up for UNI Dance Marathon if they want their life changed. Not only are you having an amazing time with friends, but you get to see these kiddos who, for one day, get to be a normal kid. If they can make it through these difficult and hard times in the hospital, you can stand, dance, and fundraise for them all night long!
Do you have some words of encouragement for our dancers and committee members? I would encourage those who are at Dance Marathon to not only enjoy all of the activities, food, and entertainment, but go talk to a family for 10 minutes and hear their story. Their bravery to survive and to keep fighting day after day will really put your life into perspective. Enjoy yourself, but remember it's always For The Kids!
Is there anything else you would like to add? UNI Dance Marathon should always be about one thing year after year. It should always be about the kiddos and families, and how college students can change so many peoples lives. Now, keep it going, keep fundraising, and best of luck! Dance the night away FTK!