It all starts with the tap of the foot, a shift of the hips, a shimmy of the shoulders and a rock of the head. It’s dancing, a simple act of expression where the movements of the body tell a story.
Whether that story is of happiness, sadness, anger or carefreeness, it is brought to life over the course of a song, a beat and a dance.
Such stories will be on display during the Butler University Dance Marathon, which will take place in late January.
BUDM is a student-run organization that dedicates an entire year to planning the event, which raises money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
At this time, students can join one of the many committees involved in the event, become a sponsor or simply make a donation to the cause.
The 12-hour event sees participants on their feet the entire time to honor children at Riley who cannot stand.
The event consists of Butler students dancing, participating in a variety of activities and interacting with children and families from Riley.
Throughout the dance marathon, Riley families and doctors share their stories with students to remind them how important their involvement is, not only to the hospital but also to the children themselves.
The children not only receive financial assistance from the fundraiser but also are able to interact with other children and Butler students and make new friends, said sophomore Jared Schuerman, dancer relations chair.
Hannah Christian is one of those children. At first glance, she is a typical nine-year-old; she loves drawing, animals and, most of all, dancing.
But Christian is also a fighter and survivor. In 2008, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, in her right leg.
She was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children, where she underwent three months of chemotherapy prior to limb-salvage surgery.
Christian then had a rare surgery known as a Van Ness Rotationplasty, which involved the removal of her knee and most of her femur.
This procedure allowed a surgeon to successfully remove the tumor and gave Hannah the opportunity to live an active lifestyle, albeit with the use of a prosthetic leg.
“Last year, my first year participating in Butler University Dance Marathon, I met Hannah Christian,” sophomore dance recruiter Sara Doverspike said. “I was moved by her story. But even more inspiring was watching her dance around like it didn’t even matter, and I’ll admit she was a better dancer than half of us.
“She asked me to come on stage and dance with her, and I was slightly embarrassed about my moves, but she had no shame in taking the lead,” Doverspike said.
Hannah ended her treatments in February 2009. Today, she is cancer-free and loves to roller skate, swim and, of course, dance.
Hannah’s story is just one of many in which Riley Hospital was able to help children with the assistance of funds raised by BUDM.
“Dance marathon brings out the best in our peers,” sophomore dance recruiter Shelby Murdoch said. “We see people over and over on campus that we may know who they are, but we don’t know anything about them.
“Dance marathon pulls everyone involved together and helps to create positive, meaningful relationships.”
The event began in 2003 in the Reilly Room. With its growth in popularity, BUDM was moved to the Health and Recreation Complex to accommodate more dancers and Riley families.
The event culminates in the unveiling of the total amount earned from the yearlong fundraising for Riley.
“Nothing brings people together like dancing, but Dance Marathon is so much more than just that,” Doverspike said. “It is fun with a purpose. Everyone has such a good time, but it’s an incredible feeling when the total that we’ve raised is revealed.”
To date, BUDM has raised over $450,000 for Riley Hospital and oncology research.
Doverspike said one of the most inspiring portions of the event involves the children from Riley coming together at the conclusion of the marathon.
“At the end of the night, all of the Riley kids at the event do a dance on stage, and they all express the same look of pure happiness of being there and dancing,” Doverspike said. “We should all live our life that way—just happy to be dancing and happy to be alive.”
Now, if you feel the need to bust a move, drop it real low, shake your money-maker or even wobble, you can. And this time, it’s for a good cause.