The Purdue University Dance Marathon has been around for many years, raising thousands of dollars every year for a common cause and bringing together participants of all backgrounds. While they all share a goal, each participant is motivated to take part for their own reasons.

“I participate because there are so many kids and families out there that need us to participate,” said Kristen Burger, fourth-year participant and senior in the College of Education, as well as PUDM’s vice president of membership.

Some students said they joined because of the stories the families from Riley Children’s Hospital share.

“It supports a really awesome cause,” said Kelly Penrose, first-year participant and freshman in the College of Engineering. “And the stories you get out of it are just incredible.”

Similarly, one student was compelled to participate because of the emotional stories.

“I have done a lot of retreats where you hear personal stories. ... And it just kind of hits you differently,” said Lauren Weglarz, first-year participant and freshman in the College of Liberal Arts.

For some, the stories hit close to home.

“My cousin was born 12 years ago. She went to Riley, and she inspires me everyday. I keep doing it for her,” said Emily Toney, fourth-year participant and senior in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Greek life participation is another large part of PUDM. Members of Pi Kappa Phi ride bikes for the entire 18 hours, members of FarmHouse shave their heads, and each organization has members that represent them by participating in the event.

“It’s for a great cause, and the families being here really makes it a special event. ... It’s a great opportunity you won’t get once you graduate,” said Jack Wagner, first-year participant and sophomore in the College of Engineering, as well as a member of Pi Kappa Phi.

Each year, a large group of participants serve as executives and officials who work year round to make PUDM happen.

“Originally, I did it because my roommate was doing it,” said Mia Zebell, second-year participant and committee member, as well as a sophomore in the College of Engineering. “But then after last year ... I really wanted to get involved because it’s such a good cause. It’s so amazing to see everyone’s stories and hear what they have to say.”

In the end, the ultimate goal is to help the people sharing stories by raising money for Riley Children’s Hospital.

“If we don’t raise that money, we don’t raise those funds, then there’s no way that research can happen,” Burger said. “That’s where the real miracles happen, is that research. So that we can give those families hope for the future, because every child deserves to be a Boilermaker.”

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