Background Info: My name is Derek Klein and I graduated from UNI in 2014. My senior year at UNI, I served as the Director of Recruitment for UNI DM!
Why should people get involved with Dance Marathon? As cliché as it sounds, it truly is a life-changing experience. You will never forget hearing the families present incredible stories about how their child has overcome cancer, how they have spent 11 out of the last 12 months at the children’s hospital in Iowa City, or the heartbreaking stories of a child losing his/her battle. Knowing that we are not only offering financial support for these families, but emotional support as well, is such a great reason to be involved. Just being there the day of the Big Event lets these families know that we are doing things to help them out.
What are some fundraising tips that you could give DM participants? I found it most beneficial to ask family, friends, high school teachers and coaches, mentors, and really anybody you feel like you’ve had a good relationship with. They enjoy seeing that you are doing something for a great cause. When you do this it can also help to tell how you got involved and the reason why you chose to get involved—personalize your message. It can be as easy as sending out a mass email to these people or make it a goal to call one person a day until the day of the Big Event. Some other people can get very creative with how they fundraise by creating challenges, i.e. if they reach $1,500 they will create a music video to their favorite song. It doesn’t have to be something that crazy, but providing incentives for people can help.
What advice would you give DM participants? Make the most of the Big Event. Try anything and everything it has to offer. Hop in the photo booth, have a dance-off with one of the kiddos, talk to the families, fundraise, share what you have learned from being there on social media. By being fully submersed in the event, you will realize that you are making a difference in these kids’ lives. Also, remember how you felt throughout the 12-hour Big Event and take that with you after the day is over. The kids we stand for fight their battles every day, and it is important to remember that we can continue supporting them.
What was the best part about being involved with UNI DM? Hearing the families tell their stories is easily the greatest part of the Big Event for me. It amazes me how much these families go through and how they have persevered through it. And then on top of that, they have the courage to get up in front of a thousand college students to share their stories. I remember at the first DM, one of our miracle kiddos had recently passed away and his family still got up on that stage and talked about their battle. That’s something I’ll never forget.
What are 3 things that DM participants should do to prepare for the Big Event?
Wear comfortable clothing. You’re going to be on your feet for 12 straight hours.
Bring deodorant. You might not think it’s necessary but it is. With 12 hours of activity, you’re bound to sweat a little.
Brace yourself for Power Hour. It will be the most exhilarating hour of your day, and you have to be ready to go all out for it! (This is another reason deodorant is important to remember.)