Many students may remember Purdue University Dance Marathon as an hours-long event with thousands of students packed into gym spaces dancing, singing and completing tasks all night “For The Kids.”
This year, instead of dancing and standing up for 18 hours straight in the Cordova Recreational Sports Center, students raising money for the Riley Hospital for Children will participate in this Saturday’s dance marathon via live stream from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We are expecting around 1,000 members total to attend, and we are hoping for more people to view the live stream,” said Elena Richardson, a junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences and current president of PUDM. “We have normally averaged around 2,000 attendees in the past few years.”
As of 2019, PUDM has raised almost $9 million toward the children’s hospital and its cancer-research and child-life funds.
“During the rave, we raise anywhere between $60,000 and $90,000,” said PUDM vice president of finance Conor Danus. “Basing it on other marathons around the country, virtual fundraising in event hasn’t been as significant as in-person marathons due to the pandemic.”
Last year, PUDM raised upward of $1 million in total.
How does the about $90,000 during the day’s event translate to upward of $1 million over the course of the year?
“What most people don’t realize about the PUDM is that the money we raise comes from a variety of different revenue streams,” Danus said. “The biggest challenge since the pandemic is that certain revenue streams have diminished and we have worked to try and make that up in different areas.”
One such revenue stream is the Day of Miracles, a 24-hour fundraising marathon five weeks before the dance marathon, which Danus said is the organization’s largest fundraising day of the year.
“We had this year’s Day of Miracles on the first day of October, and it broke the record as the largest push day in PUDM history,” he said. “Last year we made around just over $147,000, and this year we raised just under $170,000 in the Day of Miracles alone.”
Though the dance marathon will largely be held online, this year’s PUDM will also offer small in-person components.
“We are going to be having a couple booths around campus where participants can interact and engage with Riley families and different fundraising activities that people get to engage with during the 12-hour marathon, as well as the live rave,” Danus said.
Richardson said booths will be set up on Krach Lawn, by the Bell Tower and by the Block P statue from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“Participants at the Bell Tower booth will learn the morale dance,” she said. “For every $100 raised at the booth, a bell will be rung and a balloon will be planted on the ground, so by the end of the day there will be a bunch of balloons by the Bell Tower.
“The booth will be at the base of the Bell Tower, not underneath it,” Richardson added with a chuckle, referencing the tower’s infamous legend.
The first $100,000 raised by PUDM will go to the Riley Hospital child-life program, which PUDM financing executive Skyler Musson said funds resources to let kids still feel like kids while receiving medical treatment. After that, the next $10,300 will go to the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment.
“The Tyler Trent endowment goes toward precision genomics research, which is the same sort of treatment Tyler Trent received when he was part of the leadership team in 2018 before he passed away January 1, 2019,” Danus said. “That year, Trent raised $103,000, so that is why the 10,300 figure is very significant.”
All remaining funds, which he said usually total around $1 million, go toward cancer research at the Hermann B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research in Indianapolis.
Danus, Musson and Richardson all said they are looking forward to the PUDM this Saturday.
“It’s really fun listening to Riley family stories, participating in the rave and doing different things with the Greek life,” Musson said. “I am most excited to see how everything is virtual because it is something we have never done before, and we still have all of the main things that we do at a normal marathon.
“We will have 15 Riley families tuning in,” Richardson said. “I’m excited to see everyone’s work finally pay off.”