Eighteen hours of dancing, games, competitions and hearing stories from Riley families may be the most well-known part of Purdue University Dance Marathon. But between activities, how do already sleep-deprived college students manage to stay up and moving the entire time?
“I got some Red Bull, I got some Vitamin C,” said Lauren Goldman, a freshman in the College of Education who came prepared. “Honestly, I feed off the energy around me.”
Goldman was on the morale committee for the dance marathon and said she was inspired to participate because she was a patient at her local children’s hospital and she wanted to give back.
“I just really want to be someone who can support the kids and their families,” she said.
Jimmy Nuzzo, a freshman in the College of Pharmacy, said it was more about perspective than caffeine.
“Oh, it’s all a mental game,” Nuzzo said, hands placed firmly on his hips. “You tell yourself you’re energized, so you’re energized.”
Nuzzo was attending with his frat, Phi Kappa Psi, and said he was most excited for the dancing.
“I heard there was some sort of rave later,” he said.
Feeling optimistic, Nuzzo predicted he wouldn’t start getting tired until “11 a.m., after it’s over.”
In addition to energy drinks and coffee, 5-Hour Energy “shots” were also reportedly a popular method of staying alert. Sarah Pierce, a senior color captain at the dance marathon, said that she heard someone was planning on chugging three of the shots at once.
Despite the excess of caffeine consumption, some preferred to take the natural route.
“I had too much caffeine last year, I think it killed me,” said Lizzy Pass, a junior in the College of Engineering. This was her second dance marathon. Last year, she estimated her caffeine intake was about five energy drinks throughout the night.
“My goal this year is water,” she said, laughing. She planned not to drink any caffeine and stick to only “real” foods.
Pass was attending with her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta. She said this year they got to meet Lucy, the Riley kid they were supporting.
“She was so cute,” she said. “It was nice to put a face to who we dance for.”
Savannah Bratcher, the president of PUDM, said the foundation encourages safe methods of staying awake, including caffeine, but that it doesn’t condone energy drinks because of their potentially adverse effects.
“We heavily, heavily discourage 5-Hour Energies,” she said.
Bratcher also mentioned they urge participants to get rides home after the marathon as opposed to driving themselves because of the dangerous risks of driving drowsy.
“We put the safety of our participants at No. 1,” she said.
Though caffeine is often a necessity for many participants at PUDM, Bratcher said the energy and atmosphere of the marathon goes a long way in keeping everyone active.
“Being around so many passionate individuals, seeing the families and the kids — and knowing that the experiences they’ve had to go through are a lot more difficult than staying up for 18 hours — is really inspiring.”