What is morale? Morale is the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time. UNI Dance Marathon is driven by the morale and passion shown from its members, but one committee in particular: the morale captains.
Kody Gafkjen has been a part of UNI Dance Marathon all four years he has attended UNI. As a sophomore Gafkjen applied to be a morale captain and has not parted from this role since. “I knew Freshman year at the Big Event that I wanted to get more involved than just being on a committee,” Gafkjen said. “I saw the morale dance and the passion they had so I knew that was my goal for next year.”
So what does it take to be a morale captain? “You have to be ready for Dance Marathon to be a big part of your life,” Gafkjen said. “You have to be dedicated and realize that it’s all worth it. You have to have love for the organization and if you are a freshman you have to be willing to love it. It is not all serious though, you have to have fun and that is what makes giving 110% worth it.”
Hosting events is a big part of how UNI Dance Marathon is so well-developed. “Aside from the Big Event, the mini dance marathons at schools in the community are my favorite events to attend,” Gafkjen said. “We are able to go and help these kids raise money and awareness. It is neat to see these kids grow a passion for Dance Marathon, who will soon grow up to be college kids fighting for the same cause some day.”
As Gafkjen is half way through his senior year, it is starting to sink in that it is his year of lasts. Last Thanksgiving and Christmas break, last finals, last class with that one professor he should have avoided, last time clocking into Biscottis but most importantly, last UNI Dance Marathon.
“I can take so many things away from being a morale captain for my future,” Gafkjen said. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that you should dance without being worried about someone watching. Bad dancing saves lives.”
“My favorite memory as a morale captain was during the morale dance at the Big Event,” Gafkjen said. “Looking out at all of the dancers that are synchronized and everyone is smiling and having fun is such an awesome thing. Seeing the passion come together from everyone who has the same goal - to help the kids - is just really moving.”
Gafkjen loved every second of being a morale captain, but certain parts stand out more than others. “The relationships I have developed with my miracle family is one of my favorite reasons of being a morale captain,” Gafkjen said. “I was able to hang out with them and get together outside of events. They truly cared about me and I cared about them.”
“I am so glad I continued being a morale captain all three years because I could not imagine doing anything different,” Gafkjen said. “It’s a family and it’s a really good feeling to be a part of the family.”
As Gafkjen looks back on his final year he realizes the importance of taking it all in every step of the way. “On the Big Day, take a moment to just look out and appreciate everyone there,” Gafkjen said. “Don’t forget to take time and speak to those families, speak to the kiddos and just enjoy every second.”