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Happy Feet Combine With Giving to Fuel One-of-a-Kind Benefit

Sore feet and tired legs were little concern for the 275-plus participants of St. Norbert College’s third annual Dance Marathon, the 13.1-hour fundraising event that has quickly flourished into a campus service phenomenon.

“Everybody on campus knows what it is, has heard of it,” explains Taylor Baltus ’16, one of Dance Marathon’s three co-presidents. Alongside Lydia Dorn ’17 and Aaron Van Eperen ’17, she leads an executive team of more than 30-plus organization members. Each is tasked with facilitating the funds and spirit behind an event that unite nearly 15 percent of the student body behind a single philanthropic cause – a feat unique outside of athletics.

Yet you’d be hard pressed to find a single person burdened by operational details. With its motto “For the Kids,” Dance Marathon keeps the focus always on the recipients of its proceeds, young cancer patients at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

“It’s just so great to look out into the crowd and see everyone smiling, all together, doing the same thing and working toward something. Most of us go our whole lives without having to deal with something like this, so to come together as one puts it all into perspective,” says Baltus. 

And while partaking in Dance Marathon means 13.1 hours of on-your-feet movement without sleep or caffeine, the energy is kept up though choreographed, hourly “morale dances” and “miracle family” speakers whose own cancer journeys have been aided by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.      

This year’s speakers included current students Joey Rubin ’16 and Renae Metke ’18. Rubin himself has epilepsy, and it was at the Miracle Network-affiliated hospital Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s in his native Chicago where he underwent three brain surgeries to help control the condition. And as Rubin will happily tell you, it’s been more than two years since his last seizure.

“I’ve been to Lurie Children’s so many times that it’s like I am talking to friends from here at SNC. So Dance Marathon is one of my favorite days of the year. We are dancing for the children.”      

Steve Bessert (Advancement), co-advisor to St. Norbert’s Dance Marathon chapter, echoes his sentiments. Bessert finds he’s continually impressed with the commitment and ownership the students bring to the table every year – and how that dedication defines Dance Marathon’s growth.

“It's the passion each member brings to the organization that helps keep the energy alive,” he says. “Every member is there for the right reason and strives to make the organization better semester after semester, knowing that their efforts will directly impact the lives of children.”             

Nov. 3, 2015