Dance Marathon morale chairs keep students on their feet

Annual party has raised more than $1 million for Children's Miracle Network

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Rivera (Credit: jerry naunheim jr./WUSTL Photos)
“There’s country and ‘Power Hour’ and ‘Middle School Hour,’” said Rivera, who is majoring in anthropology and psychology, in Arts & Sciences, and minoring in art. “And, of course, ‘Old Disney.’ It’s kind of surprising, but that is a really big crowd-pleaser because everyone knows those lyrics.”

But the event’s real stars are the ambassador families of the Children’s Miracle Network, Rivera said.

“When you hear their stories, you realize how lucky we all are,” she said. “We are all stressed; we all have exams, but they have faced much greater challenges. If they can be there, we can be there.”


“It’s rewarding to know that you are the one keeping people on their feet and excited, but it’s really the families who give us energy,” added Cornblath, who is studying Latin American studies, Spanish and Chinese, all in Arts & Sciences. “It is a marathon; you do get tired. But there is nothing like the energy you feel on that dance floor.”

Hate dancing? Try four square or musical chairs — or Twister. Play with the ambassador children at the arts and crafts table. Ham it up with your friends in the photo booth.

“We don’t want people to sit down,” Rivera said. “We are standing in honor of the families and the doctors and nurses who work 12-hour shifts. They don’t get to sit down.”

Kate Durso, Children’s Miracle Network programs director, calls Dance Marathon the happiest day on campus. She helped stage early Dance Marathons as a WUSTL undergraduate. Now, she helps organize Dance Marathons at three local universities.

“For the students, it’s a time to relax and unwind and celebrate our families,” said Durso, who earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies in 2002. “And for our Miracle kids, it is a time of hope. The older ones get to see what a life in college looks like. And our younger ones are like, ‘These cool college kids want to dance and play and sing with us.’ They love it.”

Now in its 15th year, WUSTL’s Dance Marathon has raised more than $1.4 million for the two member pediatric hospitals of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis: St. Louis Children’s Hospital and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

“Because of their sheer passion and energy, Washington University students are able to raise in one night a ton of money,” Durso said. “Families always say to me that they are impressed by these students, who are so busy, make time to do something good.”