How to Dance for 24 Continuous Hours

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Step 1: Prepare Yourself
First and foremost, let me make this clear: DANCE MARATHON DAY IS NOT LEG DAY!!  It is 1am as I am writing this, and my legs are already killing me due to my workout yesterday afternoon.  To give you some perspective, I still have eighteen hours of this to go.  The Friday of Dance Marathon should be spent in relaxation, despite how pumped up you may be for the big event.  Also, fanny packs.  You get them at freshmen orientation, so there’s no excuse for not bringing one.  Finding a place to keep your water bottle, cell phone, and whatever else you need while on the dance floor is a lot easier when you have a little pouch in front of you.  Finally, eat before you go.  Dinner is not served until midnight.  And while I don’t necessarily recommend this strategy, overeating is partly how I managed to stay awake, since the pain in my stomach prevented me from falling asleep.  Just remember, no caffeine!  And I don’t just mean during the event.  Drinking caffeine beforehand will lead to a crash eventually, making it even harder to get through the night/morning/afternoon.
Step 2: Do Stuff that isn’t Dancing
You didn’t actually think that you had to dance for twenty four hours, did you?  I, for example, am writing this article, which distracts me from the pain in my legs.  There’s a ton of stuff you can do when you aren’t dancing, like laser tag, crafts, and sumo wrestling.  There are also hourly speeches given by the families of the patients, which keep me motivated to make it to the next hour.  This sounds pretty obvious, but if you can find something that will keep you going, you will keep going.  It’s also easier to find that motivation if you set the schedule as your phone background.  This schedule includes events like the “man pageant,” (which my morale captain won), performances by jugglers and dance groups, and the kiddo graduation, where those who hit the five-year mark this year for being cancer-free are recognized.  And, of course, the power hour, as in the second-to-last hour of the event where everyone makes their way to the main lounge and dances their very hardest.  This is everyone’s favorite part and definitely not optional.  Other than that, you can always lean against a wall and try not to die, or find other creative ways to rest your legs while technically not sitting.  I’ll admit, I ended up spending more time doing that more than I actually spent dancing.
Step 3: Look at the Light
There is a candle hanging up at the back of the dance floor.  Below it is a quilt with the names of all of the kiddos who are dancing in our hearts forever.  Whenever you feel tired, whenever you feel like giving up and collapsing on the floor, just remember who you’re doing this for.  Cancer doesn’t give these kids a rest for even a day, and the pain you feel now is less than a millionth of what it feels like to have pediatric cancer.  This is what you’re up against.  One day, thousands of experimental treatments and millions of dollars into the future, we will be able to call cancer a thing of the past.  But that isn’t something guaranteed or something we can take for granted.  This year, Dance Marathon raised $2,572,130.23 all FTK (for the kids). This money doesn’t automatically show up from wealthy donors.  It has to come from the long hours of canning, the letters written to relatives, and the innovative ways that YOU come up with to raise money (this year, someone put a green toilet on her neighbors’ lawn and made them pay money to get it off).  And, after all of that, you have to stay awake and on your feet for twenty four consecutive hours.  You may be wondering what putting yourself through this can possibly do for them, so I’ll tell you what it does. It gives the kids a chance to party, which is nice considering that many of them spend their lives in a hospital.  It lets them know that you care enough to dance for twenty four hours for them.  It provides them with a stage to share their stories every hour, and those stories will undoubtedly change your life.  So, if and when you decide to join Dance Marathon, this is all you really need to know: every cent counts.  You may want to pass up the opportunity to go canning because it’s freezing and you have better things to do on a Saturday night.  You don’t.  You may think that, five hundred dollars later, you’re done for the year and you can sit back and relax.  You can’t.  Because even though we raised over two and a half million dollars, we technically still didn’t reach our goal.  That goal isn’t a random number, it’s calculated specifically to meet the needs of the families that are helped by Dance Marathon, the number of which increases every year.  We still have a lot to be proud of, but we still have a long way to go before we eradicate cancer, and that change starts with you.