Once more “for the kids”

Hamline University Dance Marathon surpassed their fundraising goal at the second annual Festival for the Kids.


Antonio Risso

The ‘judges’ for the team dance event were a tough crowd, and the teams needed to really impress to meet their standards.

Ann Marie Leimbach, Variety Editor

With the lights down low in Anderson forum, a room full of students and families in blue “HUDM” t-shirts celebrated the second annual Festival for the Kids. 

The goal for the night was to raise $8,000 for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare here in Saint Paul. 

“It’s bigger and better than last year, we have more experience under our belts now,” said senior and Vice President of HUDM Amanda Danielson. 

Several families that use Gillette’s services were invited as guests to share their stories and dance along with everyone. Paula Gryskiewicz, whose daughter Cora goes to Gillette, likes the way events like Dance Marathon allow the children to participate and be appreciated.

“Cora and her brother Emmett have been so excited. We’ve been putting on music and practicing dancing at home all week,” Gryskiewicz said. 

Throughout the night HUDM had activities planned to keep spirits up as the hours went by. They held a team cheer-off to be judged by some of the kids in attendance and had a “pie-off” for donations.

At the beginning of the evening, the Dance Ensemble taught a morale dance to the participants to be repeated a few times during the marathon. There was also Zumba and yoga to keep everyone energized and dancing, as well as a few student performances. 

The atmosphere was positive and upbeat thanks to popular music on the speakers, colorful balloons littering the floor and food donated from Nothing Bundt Cakes, Panera, Ginko Coffee house and Toppers Pizza to name a few.  

To keep participants from getting restless in the downtime, there was a photo booth, free candy and tables set up with materials to make bracelets or cards.

“It’s so much fun, I’m still trying to figure out how to make a friendship bracelet,” sophomore David Sheriff said. 

The executive board of HUDM spent the last year planning the festival. Having learned a lot from last year, they went in more prepared. 

“This year we’ve been more intentional with the people we were asking to come,” said junior and HDM president Alexandra Pick. “People who are really connected to the cause.” 

Pick, who started the club as a first-year, has gotten experience growing the club from the ground up.

“I’ve gotten to see Dance Marathon grow from just myself to getting to share it with all these other people,” Pick said.

Though there was plenty of fun to be had, the main reason for the occasion was to raise money “For The Kids.” At the end of the night, HUDM raised $10,088 for Gillette.

“It’s nice seeing the kids and hearing their stories, it makes you want to help them more,” first-year Trista Knebel said.