Austin Feldmann – UIDM

University of Iowa Dance Marathon (UIDM) was the most meaningful and impactful organization I have ever dedicated my time toward.  Dance Marathon is a student organization at 100’s of universities and colleges nationwide to raise money for families at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. UIDM raises money for the kiddos at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital to help with the financial impact of pediatric cancer.  This is the largest student organization at Iowa and the 4th largest Dance Marathon in the country as far as financial contributions.  Every year there is a big event in which students dance for 24 hours with no sitting, no sleeping and no caffeine before revealing the amount of money that was raised that year.

I was drawn to the organization with my cousin being treated at the university hospital and seeing how cancer affected someone close to me growing up. I had multiple friends who had done it my Freshman year along with many people in my fraternity being leaders in the organization which pushed me into joining my sophomore year.  I spent one year as a dancer and two years on leadership.  My first year of leadership I was a Morale Captain and had recruited and retained 48 dancers to raise over $36,000 that year.  This was one of the most rewarding and fun years of my life as I not only met my now fiancé but met 52 other like-minded people who all collaboratively motivated 2,000+ people to raise $2.4 million. I also was paired up with a family for one of the kids who was impacted by cancer, and I was able to get to know him and spend time with him at the hospital and out at other family events.

The next year I was on the event team that planned the different activities to keep dancers at the event engaged and helped with community and university outreach. I also joined over 200 other runners in UIDM to pledge $1,000 and to run the Chicago Marathon.  I exceeded this financial goal and my motivation to be able to finish the marathon came from knowing that the kids fight a lot more pain than what I was feeling on that day.