Students boogie for a cause

Hamline University Dance Marathon hosted five hours of fundraising fun.

Molly Landaeta, Reporter

Decked out in purple with music blasting, Hamline University Dance Marathon (HUDM) welcomed dancers, non-dancers and everyone in between to attend their first annual For the Kids event. A year’s worth of planning, event hosting and fundraising led up to this night, with the goal being to reach $5,000 for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare (Gillette).

Hamline University is one of the four colleges in Minnesota that hosts a dance marathon event to sponsor Gillette.

With food provided by local sponsors and Hamline Dining Services, and a DJ courtesy of Hamline University Programming Board, the event was loud and welcoming to get people prepared for the five-hour dance event.

The HUDM board asked participants to raise their hands if they knew anyone who has been to Gillette to help visualize the vast impact it makes, and nearly half the room raised their hands.

“[Gillette specializes] in rare and complex disorders and also traumatic injuries,” development officer for children’s miracles Sara Berkbigler said. “We see kids that sometimes are in car accidents, have spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, things like that.”

Berkbigler has been working closely with HUDM throughout the year.

“I work with our Children’s Miracle Network team. Dance Marathon is one of our biggest contributors in terms of fundraising,” Berkbigler said. “We are just so thrilled to be… able to share this experience with our miracle families.”

Berkbigler was not the only attendee from the hospital. Four different families from Gillette, including the Moskowitzes, the Youngquists, the Dahls and the Gryskiewiczes, also attended.

Each of these families shared their differing medical experiences but similar overall experiences, including positivity and thankfulness for all that Gillette was able to provide.

On stage, Hope Youngquist, a patient of Gillette, showed off her stuffed animal skunk that she brings into surgery with her to “breathe out the bad and breathe in the good.”

Attendees were then taught a dance routine by senior Elsa Flom and junior Aaron Buergi to be performed throughout the night.

First-year Maya Seberson played ukulele, getting the whole room to sing along, and six-year-old Gillette patient Cameron Moskowitz performed “The Wheels on the Bus” with HUDM board members.

This was Moskowitz’s first dance marathon event and he was eager to share his love for the rootbeer floats he drinks at the hospital and the baseball he gets to play there, as well as his excitement for being at the event.

“I like [dancing],” Moskowitz said. “I am a bit nervous because there is a lot of people.”

He spent the night playing with the purple balloons and dancing around with college students.

After the performances, attendees painted themselves neon for blacklight Zumba, led by Hamline alum Khadijah Pierce.

The remainder of the event consisted of a power half hour of dance and the circle of hope, where a Gillette video was played and the admittance wristbands were cut off to symbolize hope.

Throughout the night, attendees reached out to family and friends to generate further donations. For every donation, a loud air horn blast announced the accomplishment to the group, which was met with even louder applause.

First-year Rachel Sucher attended and was excited to support the cause and dance, with their favorite part being the positive energy.

“Everyone genuinely cares about the cause and supports each other as a community,” Sucher said.

This positive energy and support all lead up to the big reveal. After a year of planning and a night of dancing, the HUDM board was happy to reveal the fundraised total of $6,148, surpassing their goal of $5,000.

While this was the total raised as of the event, the link to donate ( will remain open until Mar. 1 to encourage continued support for children and their families throughout their journey at Gillette.