Power Hour brings everyone together to dance during the 23rd hour at the 22nd Dance Marathon in the Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

Guest Opinion: $21 million and countless hours of UI Phil

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Last fall, I attended a “Life With Phil” lecture, hosted by the University Lecture Committee and the University of Iowa Foundation, that featured Ted Waitt, the founder of Gateway 2000 Inc. and the Waitt Foundation. Addressing a crowd of primarily students filling the IMU Main Lounge, Waitt identified philanthropy as the giving of your time or money to a cause that matters to you.

For the thousands of University of Iowa students who participate in UI Dance Marathon, that cause is the fight against pediatric cancer — and the amount of time they dedicate to the organization is invaluable. Their hard work on behalf of Dance Marathon is not the result of a financial incentive but rather, a byproduct of genuine passion. Whether it’s on the dance floor during the 24 hour “Big Event” or in the UI Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center, located on the 11th floor of the brand-new University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, UI students find immense joy in giving back to the community.

Our mission is to provide emotional and financial support to pediatric oncology patients, and we live out this mission 365 days a year. We could stop fundraising and give up at any time, but the children we serve cannot stop fighting. Because we acknowledge this reality, and because we are inspired by their resilience and courage, we remain diligent, and we keep challenging ourselves to do more, too. For the kids.

After 23 years of embracing challenges, UI Dance Marathon has raised more than $21 million “for the kids.” Last year alone, we raised nearly $2.6 million, and we will not stop there. Dance Marathon 24 has already begun, and the opportunities are endless. To many, it is unfathomable that a group of college students can raise that much money. It doesn’t surprise me, though. All it takes is a group of hard-working and good-hearted students willing to give up their time. That’s philanthropy.

Alex Linden

Class of 2018, Executive Director UI Dance Marathon

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