Purdue University Dance Marathon participants crowded around the stage and cheered enthusiastically as speaker after speaker shared their stories, sang favorite songs and celebrated the success of PUDM.
The event, which brought together nearly 2,000 people, lasted from 4 p.m. on Saturday to 10 a.m. on Sunday and raised funds for Riley Hospital for Children.
At 9:40 a.m., participants of the PUDM formed a circle. Near the end of the 18-hour event, participants — some exhausted, some still energized — swayed together to the song “Dream Big.”
Anticipation grew as the time moved closer to 10 a.m., when the final amount of money raised would be announced.
Then, at 10 a.m., everyone gathered in front of the stage and began eagerly recording with their phones as the final total was revealed.
One by one, participants on stage flipped over boards they were holding up. The audience clapped and cheered at raising $1,065,610.23.
Several participants hugged each other. Many were smiling, and some even had tears in their eyes.
Last year, PUDM raised $1,207,476.23. The total amount of money raised since PUDM’s origin in 2005 is now $8,972,715.52, according to the organization’s webpage.
“I’m from Arkansas Dance Marathon, and we’re visiting to check out theirs. It’s really inspiring because we don’t raise as much as that. We’re newer. We raised like $100,000, and we’re like, ‘This is great,’” said Allison Barnes, a visiting student from the University of Arkansas.
Katy Zaloudek, a freshman in the College of Engineering, celebrated how much money this year’s dance marathon raised.
“I was just blown away from the amount raised, and it’s over a million dollars in just a year. That’s awesome,” she said.
In a burst of rejuvenated energy, the participants began a final Morale Dance, which incorporated songs, moments of laughter and singing in unison.
PUDM staff shared their pride in the event.
“This year’s dance marathon was pretty awesome. I think we’re doing something special,” said Conor Davis, PUDM’s sponsorship relations chair. “It feels more like family.”
A common encouragement bonded many students during the dance marathon as they remembered Tyler Trent, a former PUDM chair and Purdue student who passed away from cancer in January 2019.
“Go the extra mile,” speakers said, echoing a slogan by Tyler Trent. For the 2018 dance marathon, Trent helped raise over $140,000.
Tyler’s lasting legacy continuously inspires the student organization.
“It’s helped us get a lot closer. It gave us a personal connection. A lot of people know about cancer and see it, but they don’t actually experience it, like losing someone very important to them,” said Madison McGlaun, a senior in the College of Science.
She said people often don’t think tragedy can occur to them, but in reality, tragedy can occur to anyone.
Regardless of the amount of money raised, some students said they appreciate the experience of dance marathons.
“It was inspiring for future marathons to come. It was a great experience, whether it was your fifth or fourth marathon, or your first. It was all-around great,” said Samuel Smith, a junior in the Polytechnic Institute.
McGlaun said she is already looking forward to next year’s PUDM.
“It was amazing. It was the best time of my life. It’s my favorite day of the year,” McGlaun said. “It’s amazing that we, as a student-run organization on campus, can actually raise a million dollars.”