JACK MICKELSON | NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Five years ago student Ryan Engesser ’15 started Saint Norbert Dance Marathon. Since then, students at Saint Norbert College have danced for a total of 52.4 hours over five years.
Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a nationwide student-led campaign that operates at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Every Dance Marathon program raises funds that go to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals around the nation. The Saint Norbert College program raises funds for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The group’s motto, “for the kids” (FTK), comes from this goal of helping children in need.
The Saint Norbert Dance Marathon team is made up of 53 individuals, each belonging to one of four committees: Entertainment, Recruitment, Fundraising and Sponsorship and Families.
When Miracle Day takes place, all of the crew members are present, along with student body, staff, and faculty members who have signed up to dance, typically resulting in a crowd of 150-175 people. Also in attendance are Miracle Families and Miracle Kids. This year, there were 11 Miracle Families and 14 Miracle Kids at the event to tell their stories of how Dance Marathon positively affected their lives.
Dance Marathon takes its name from the event hosted on Miracle Day each year. Those who participate in the full program stay on their feet from 9 a.m. to 10:06 p.m. These 13.1 hours correspond to the 13.1 miles that comprise a half-marathon in the world of sports.
The continuous activity of the dancers demonstrates the group’s commitment to the children its fundraising benefits.
In total since its beginnings at St. Norbert College, the Saint Norbert Dance Marathon team has danced for 52.4 hours and raised upwards of $150,000.
In the past, the earnings have gone to several different types of hospital equipment, including a Giraffe Isolette, a VMAX Spirometry System, MRI Goggles, a full cooling body unit, an EKG machine and renovations for the NICU. On average, 200 to 230 SNC students partake in Miracle Day each year.
Co-president Stephen Lin ’18 shared with “The Saint Norbert Times” his feelings about Miracle Day: “Our overall goal as a student organization is to provide the funding for equipment and renovations that the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin needs and to make sure that the children get the best possible treatment. Our financial goal this year is to raise $70,000 for the kids!”
Lin also shared some of his personal reasoning for being so involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon here at Saint Norbert: “I choose to be in this organization because I participated in a Dance Marathon in high school and knew the mission when I first came onto campus. I knew I wanted to join Saint Norbert College Dance Marathon when I heard about the program.”
Lin continued, “Also, I have a baby second cousin, Alex, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and got treated at a Children’s Hospital in Pennsylvania. I believe that every child deserves to live their life to their fullest potential without any limitation, and the scar that I see on Alex’s chest is a constant reminder that we can make a huge impact on children’s lives. I also have friends that were treated at Children’s Hospital, and it’s a way for me to give back to Children’s Miracle Network for saving their lives.”
Mikaela Wolf ’19, also a co-president of the Dance Marathon here at Saint Norbert College, also shared with the “Times” her motivation for being so involved with the organization, stating, “I joined Dance Marathon as an Emerging Leader my freshman year, as it seemed very similar to an organization I had worked with and fundraised for in the past. I fell in love with the organization and our cause.
Wolf went on to say that “I chose to stay in Dance Marathon because I love seeing the smiles of the Miracle Kids and knowing that our fundraising is going to contribute to the hospital’s ability to create more birthdays and more tomorrows. I dance as part of this generation fighting for the next and to give more kids a chance to receive the best possible care at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.”
Payton Sitzberger ’21 shared with the “Times” her feelings about joining the Dance Marathon team. Previous to her time at St. Norbert College, she had not participated in a Dance Marathon event.
“I heard about this student org from people around campus,” Sitzberger stated. “I decided to visit their table at the Involvement Fair, and I could tell right away that this was a group of students who were deeply passionate about helping to support children and families in the hospital. I also felt a source of love, passion, and belonging to this group of people, and I am so happy I chose Dance Marathon.”
Sitzberger continued by expressing her emotions about participating in such a powerful event, nothing that she was both “psyched and thrilled” to be a part of Miracle Day, especially to hear stories from the families who benefit from the funds rasied by Dance Marathon. Finally, Sitzberger touched on her excitement to be a part of something that is so much larger than herself.
“To be able to say that I am involved in a cause that will improve so many lives that have been affected by cancer and other illnesses just makes the time and work so worth it,” Sitzberger commented. “To be able to hear first hand about how our fundraising will impact families I know will just be so surreal. I am proud of my work with the organization.”
Saint Norbert is lucky to have people like Lin, Wolf, Sitzberger and the other students, faculty, and staff members who participate in and contribute to Dance Marathon. The campus and families and communities beyond it benefit from individuals who are so passionate about helping the next generation live the best life possible.