Students dancing with a cause this weekend

Late Night BU comes back again tonight, but this time it will be joined by another event for double the fun.

Dance Marathon, a 24-hour event that raises money for the Children’s Hospital of Peoria, will be combining with Late Night BU to raise money and awareness in need.

“Dance Marathon is a 24-hour fundraiser where the participants just remain standing, with music playing the whole time,” said Dance Marathon President Katy Smithy. “Each student should raise $120. Students raise money before the event through friends and family. Students can even create a customized Web site through the Children’s Miracle Network and send that Web site to others.”

Smithy said anyone can participate in Dance Marathon, and a lot of people have already signed up.

“Last year we had 75 dancers,” she said. “Now we have 90, and our executive board puts that number over 100.”

Even if students have not signed up before the event begins, they can still participate, Smithy said.

“We never turn dancers away,” she said. “You can fill out an application and raise the money – it’s as simple as that.”

Smithy said she anticipates Dance Marathon to meet its goals this year.

“We have had awesome success in the past,” she said. “Every year it gets better and better. We’ve invited other student organizations to join so dancers have more to do. Joining up with Late Night BU is a huge accomplishment as well. We’re excited to build a relationship with them.”

Some students said they think Dance Marathon is a good way to raise money on campus.

“I think Dance Marathon’s a good idea,” said senior journalism major Chris Pennant, who said he plans to attend the event. “A lot of students organize the event every year, and that helps with their individual leadership [and] networking skills. And the event raises money for the Children’s Hospital, which is good with all the expansions they’ve been doing at OSF St. Francis.”

Smithy said the Dance Marathon isn’t about the students.

“Our mission is just for the kids,” she said. “The kids come to the marathon. The only time dancers sit is when parents speak. The families are such a big part. We all raise money. We all stand. It feels good to just know it’s for such a good cause so the kids can live healthy lives.”

Junior public relations major Natalee Runyan, who is one of the coordinators of Late Night BU, said the activities planned for tonight’s event include food from Alexander’s Steakhouse, a DJ dance party, “Make Your Own Music Video” and hip-hop dance lessons, among many others.

“As far as anything new or special is concerned, we are giving away two really cool meet and greets,” Runyon said. “One is with Maroon 5 and one is with Marcus from Last Comic Standing.”

Dance Marathon begins at 6 p.m. tonight and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday, and Late Night BU begins at 10 p.m. in the Markin Family Student Recreation Center.