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Dance Marathon’s Joey Rubin ’18 leads the nation in individual fundraising for children’s hospitals. Now, his student org steps up for a new Miracle Day challenge.

Fundraising Champion Dances to the Music of His Heart

A St. Norbert senior has been named the most successful Child Health Day fundraiser in the nation for his work on behalf of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. 

Dance Marathon member Joey Rubin ’18 now has his sights set on an even bigger goal as the student org gets ready to embrace its upcoming Miracle Day challenge: raising $70,000. The target represents a $20,000 jump from last year’s goal.

Leading the nation
Rubin, whose personal tally of more than $2,000 raised on Oct. 2 made him Miracle Network Dance Marathon’s top individual fundraiser, is a Miracle kid himself. He spent time in the children’s hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries throughout his time there. “I know what it’s like to be in the hospital. I know what it’s like to sit in that bed, have IVs in my arms and staples in my skull,” explains Rubin. 

These experiences, though difficult and life-altering, have inspired him to work for a cause to which he has a strong connection, he says. 

Dance Marathon set a goal for each member to raise $62 in honor of the 62 children who enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital each minute. Overall, the organization hoped to raise $7,000 on this day alone, says co-president Mikaela Wolf ’19. “We blew this goal out of the water and raised $8,706.35 in just 24 hours. As a result of our efforts, we were ranked second in our division for funds raised on this day, beating out schools who are much larger than us. We are especially excited by the fact that two of our fundraisers were in the top 10, as only one other school also had two in the top 10 – Indiana University, which started the Dance Marathon movement.”

Caytie Joe Boknevitz ’18 joined Rubin among the top 10 individual fundraisers listed for the day. “It’s the biggest fundraising day we’ve had in our history. It helped motivate everyone,” she states, emphasizing the “we.” The organization as a whole aims to work together to make a difference, and each member considers the successes of their partners as successes of the group.

Dancing to the right tune
After a successful Miracle Day in 2016, during which members raised a total of $56,007 for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, SNC Dance Marathon is ready to embrace a new challenge, increasing its 2018 goal for the Nov. 11 event to $70,000.

Rubin refuses to be daunted by this task. “People think $70,000 is a lot, but to be honest, no matter how much money we give or raise, it helps,” he says, holding up a large container he carries around with him on campus to collect spare change. “People look at me weird, but I’ve gotten over $1,200 in change a year. And $1,200 isn’t weird, is it?”

Going into its fourth year on campus, Dance Marathon has a greater presence at St. Norbert than ever. “If someone doesn’t know about Dance Marathon, I’d think they’ve been living under a rock,” Boknevitz jokes. “We’re kind of in people’s faces, and it can sometimes be a lot, but we are trying to do the best we can, for the kids.” 

The program has grown from its pilot event in 2013, in which the organization welcomed nine families to the annual Miracle Day program to share their stories and managed to raise more than $21,000. The most recent Miracle Day welcomed 21 children and 19 families.

SNC Dance Marathon has danced for a total of 52.4 hours, averaging about 13.1 hours a year. “When the time comes, we spend all 13.1 hours on our feet to honor the mission of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon,” Wolf explains.

Participants continue to advocate for the event, claiming the result is worth the long day and tired feet. “Helping out all those kids is a better accomplishment than waking up after surgery,” Rubin says. “I like Miracle Day more than my birthday. I wish my birthday was Nov. 11!”

Miracle Day funds from St. Norbert, totaling $154,504 over the years, are dedicated to the young patients at Children’s Hospital, and are used to purchase technology that makes life in the hospital a little easier for them. Dance Marathon funds have purchased equipment that ranges from MRI goggles to an EKG machine, and have contributed to NICU renovations in recent years. 

“Every little bit counts,” explains Boknevitz. “Trying to find every little way you can help is valuable.”

Nov. 7, 2017