Beta Dance Marathon
Event Type: Dance Marathon
Contributors: Phi Sigma Pi Beta Chapter, with visiting Brothers from Alpha and Delta Xi Chapters Location: Truman State University Student Union Building HUB
Planning required: (From Fall 2010 Form 110)Planning for this event began almost immediately at the beginning of the semester. There had been talk about a dance marathon for a few semesters, and the Fundraising Chair and I decided to make this our large fall fundraiser for Teach for America. The first step was to choose a date. After talking with E-Council, we decided to have the event during our annual Beta Bash for a few reasons: first, because Beta Brothers would already have this weekend set aside; and second, because this allowed for participation from alumni and visiting Brothers from other Chapters. I booked the room for November 6 the second week of September. However, Truman’s fall concert was announced for that date a few weeks later, forcing us to reschedule. This required an emergency meeting of E-Council where we moved around Beta Bash events to accommodate the change. This also meant that I had to find a new room for the event, since all of the large rooms in the Student Union Building were already booked for that date. After talking to the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, we got permission to use the Hub, which is a large open room right in the middle of the Student Union Building. This is not traditionally a space that is open for reservation, but he approved it since two Brothers work directly under him. This actually ended up being much more ideal than our original location, as it had the potential to attract more attention and passers-by. In my first few Service Committee meetings, my committee members and I bounced off ideas for the logistics of the event. We originally wanted to have a longer 12 or 24 hour event, but this would not be practical for the Truman campus, both in terms of when we could reserve the room and what we could feasibly expect from Truman students. We decided on four hours as a happy medium- this is an amount of time that takes a certain amount of endurance but is also reasonable for Brothers and guests to commit to. We decided not to have one specific “winner” since we figured multiple people would be able to last the whole four hours. Therefore, we devised a ticketing system which awarded individuals for staying on the floor while still allowing for a randomized winner. We decided that these tickets would be entered into hourly drawings for prizes donated by local businesses. In order to encourage people to participate with their friends, we opened up the marathon to teams of 2-4, setting the cost at a flat entry fee of $10. Participants needed only to have one team member on the floor in order for each member of their team to receive tickets each half hour. Thus, having more people on a team offered the incentive of a smaller entry fee per person and less time that each member was required to stay on the floor to earn tickets. We decided to invite campus dance organizations to perform to add some variety to the night’s entertainment. Many members of my committee had affiliations with these organizations, but I also wrote a letter that we placed in dance organization mailboxes (everyone from hip hop, to Irish dance, to belly dancing groups) explaining the event and requesting their participation. We ended up with confirmations from the University Swingers (swing), Illusion Danz Team (hip hop) and a contemporary dance class from The Society of Dance Arts. We also had a cappella performances from True Men (male) and Sweet Nothings (co-ed). After coming up with a solid tentative plan for the marathon, I ran it all by the director of the Center for Student Involvement. One bit of advice she offered is that we make it clear we were handing out the tickets and not directly selling them, as this would constitute gambling and be illegal according to campus policies. Otherwise, she was completely behind the event. A month prior to the event, the Fundraising Chair and I wrote a letter to local businesses seeking prize donations. Members of our committees visited the businesses and were in charge of following up with them and picking up prizes. We ended up with a variety of coupons and donations from restaurants and coffee shops, three $50 vouchers for scrubs, a large car wash kit and more. A week prior to the marathon, we also had an automotive business donate nearly 100 t-shirts in exchange for our mention of their services at the event. Around the same time, we also met with the PR/Special Events Chair to work out a publicity plan and distribute additional duties. We decided to order t-shirts for Brothers to wear prior to and during the event for extra exposure. We originally wanted to offer participating businesses advertising space on the back of the shirts, but we ran out of time for this since many did not confirm until the last minute. The PR/Special Events chair coordinated the t-shirt/poster design with the Publications Office and the Fundraising Chair was in charge of ordering t-shirts. In the weeks leading up to the event, we enacted publicity all over campus. With my internship in the Truman PR office and the PR/Special Events Chair’s job in the Center for Student Involvement, we were able to use our connections and resources to accomplish a great deal. We also had Brothers sign up to visit campus organizations and give them information about the event. The weekend before the event, the Fundraising Chair, PR/Special Events Chair, Regional Delegate and a member of the PR/Special Events committee sat down to create an itinerary for the marathon. We selected songs for the playlist and decided on other small events that would occur throughout the night. Along with the performances from dance and singing organizations, we also decided to have a costume contest and dance off. It was nice to have several people brainstorming together, as we were able to check each other’s ideas and come up with a fun and diverse entertainment line-up for the evening. Although we pushed pre-registration for the marathon by offering extra tickets as an incentive, we did not have a lot of people sign up in advance. To attract more attention, we decided to purchase an iPod shuffle and advertise that as our grand prize for the end of the night. We sat at publicity tables in the Student Union Building the week of the marathon, and on the day of we coordinated flash mobs between passing periods where Brothers drew attention by dancing on the quad while the event was announced over a loud speaker. In the days immediately prior to the marathon, our Facebook event was also a vital tool, as it allowed us to quickly spread the word to a large portion of the Truman campus. Many Brothers also tagged the event in their Facebook statuses the day of, further increasing exposure. One of the most important aspects of planning the event was keeping Brothers informed and motivated each week at Chapter. Brothers were behind me the entire time and their enthusiasm showed at the event. Maintaining constant communication about the details also meant that Brothers could accurately promote the event to their friends via word-of-mouth.
Resources required: We utilized nearly every Truman resource to publicize this event. The marathon was featured in the weekly campus newsletter Truman Today four times; in the SERVE Center weekly e-mail; on a slide on the Truman homepage slideshow; on the Truman master calendar and in the Justice Systems department weekly update. Letters were distributed to on-campus organizations asking for participation in and performances at the marathon. We had professional posters designed by the Publications Office, which were hung all over campus. This same design was displayed on t-shirts that Brothers wore the day of and during the event. Brothers sat at publicity tables and visited campus organization meetings the week of the event. The marathon was featured on sandwich boards located across campus, and Brothers participated in four flash mobs the day of the event to draw further attention. I submitted a press release to the local media and was contacted by the Index (the Truman newspaper) for a features story that was published the day before the event. Finally, there was a follow-up story in Truman Today displaying a picture and the results of the marathon.
The dance marathon involved collaboration from Service, Fundraising, PR/Special Events and Alumni Committees. Although Fellowship Committee did not have a direct hand in its planning, the event provided an excellent opportunity for fellowship through the bonding between Alpha, Beta and Delta Xi Brothers. Similarly, scholarship was present at the event through the facts shared about Teach for America as well as the variety of dances performed. The Risk Management Chair also advised me on how to make the event as safe as possible.
Materials required:As this was a combined Service/Fundraising event taking place during Beta Bash, we had the Service, Fundraising and Regional Delegate’s budgets to work with. We spent nearly $65 on the refreshments, and also purchased the iPod Shuffle, tickets, name tags and poster boards. We saved a great deal on the cost of the event by having most of our prizes donated by local businesses.
Event Summary: This was a campus-wide dance marathon attended by Brothers from Beta Chapter, initiates, visiting Brothers, members of other Truman organizations and Truman students. Teams of two to four participants entered the marathon for a fee of $10. Upon entering, each participant was given a name tag indicating the number of their team. Rules for the marathon and some facts about Teach for America were presented at the beginning of the event. Participants received tickets throughout the night for various actions, such as being especially enthusiastic (one Brother was designated the “Enthusiasm Police” and handed out tickets as they saw fit); remaining on the dance floor (Brothers were assigned to each team to hand out tickets each half hour as long as at least one member remained on the floor); and placing in the costume contest and dance off. Brothers primarily served as monitors, but there were a few teams of Brothers participating in the event as well. The playlist for the marathon featured a variety of dance music, including eighties and nineties pop, movie themes, swing, hip hop, techno, country, as well as traditional dance songs like the Cha-Cha and Electric Slides. There were also guest performances from campus dance and a cappella groups. Each hour, tickets were drawn for prizes donated by local businesses, as well as an iPod Shuffle at the end of the night. Light refreshments including chips, trail mix, lemonade and water were available all night for the guests. This event raised a decent amount for Teach for America, received great feedback from those involved and was attended by an overwhelming majority of Brothers and initiates.
Non TFA Events
Event Type: Dance Marathon
Contributors: Gamma Epsilon Chapter (Spring 2007 Form 110)
Background/Overview: Dance Marathon occurs annually and boasts 650 college students staying awake and standing for 32-hours to raise not only funds, but also knowledge of Children’s Miracle Network. The money that is raised goes directly to Shands Children’s Hospital benefiting the patients that are seen every year with tremendous medical needs. The event has raised over $2 million throughout its 13 year existence. These children have gone through so much in their lives in terms of suffering and fear, some from birth, and this event is a celebration of their triumphs over their health issues.
Planning required:Once I had contacted every sorority in the blue category (the highest one) I finally heard back from Chi Omega and we both voted to pair with each other. This added duties to my already packed Dance Marathon agenda as I now had to stay in touch with their delegate as well. Having another delegate from a different organization proved to be very helpful. For instance, she taught me that making a Screen Name and putting important stuff in the profile and daily events in the away message allowed people to always be aware of what was occurring that day or week so they would not miss it. It began to serve as my own office hours as people would instant message me with questions and comments or talk to me solely about things concerning Dance Marathon. The first event, a Get Excited Ice Cream Social to make cards and have people pay admission which went towards our total, coincided with Penny Wars, a fun and easy way to raise money at meetings. Captain applications were due in the very beginning of September and we had one alumna and one brother earn these positions. Along with this we had one brother on Overall Dance Marathon, which is a group of 11 people in charge of planning the entire event and overseeing the captains and teams. In October, the other delegate and I began meeting occasionally and another event, a letter writing party, was held. One of the most lucrative fundraisers is through simply writing letters to family and friends. Sometimes people do not know what to say in these letters or how to personalize them, so I brought samples of past letters I had written and everyone at the event drafted letters to send out. The first overall delegate meeting was held in October. This was mostly an overview of the year.
As this month went on, I began to emphasize the online fundraising program that overall started the year before. In just a few days the chapter had already raised $170, and this was before the big push that comes in the spring. During the event the Overall Morale team choreographs a line dance that keeps the dancers entertained and energized. It is played randomly throughout the event and is a treat every time the intro begins. To get people excited, another brother in Gamma Epsilon (she became my co-chair in the spring) and I choreographed a three-and-a-half minute line dance to five songs and held the event in November. I held an event to teach everyone the line dance we had created and we performed it in the meeting to increase attendance at the event. There was another delegate meeting in which we were informed of D-A-N-C-E Week, a way to earn spirit points as each organization member could sign-in as they walked through the heart of our campus, and it raised awareness about the fact that early dancer registration ended that week. The Family Relations team informed us of the Pen Pal Program and the Community Events team gave us the dates for their upcoming events and drives.
During early registration I collected 11 applications, only four short of our total amount of dancers from the year before. I had to collect all of these forms, the money, and the waivers and turn them all in on a specified day. I applied for our pen pal and began collecting cell phones and ink cartridges. There was a bowling event that raised money for Overall Dance Marathon and earned spirit points for Gamma Epsilon in November, too. Overall held a preliminary dancer meeting, unfortunately the chapter had its initiate voting meeting so only initiates were in attendance. At this voting meeting there was a bake sale since those meetings tend to go longer than regular chapter meetings. In the spring each paired organization makes t-shirts to check-in each Wednesday for spirit points. In an effort to not miss any check-ins, which start immediately after Winter Break, the other delegate and I got the design together and began taking money and orders for shirts. Over the entire course of the semester we raised $500 through various chapter fundraisers and with the online campaign. This was a great sign for the chapter.
Spring semester always proves to be the busiest and most challenging, therefore the fall chair is given a co-chair. My co-chair was a lifesaver, especially towards the end when everything picked up. When we returned in the spring, she and I added another four goals to the 10 from fall (two of those 10 were only goals for the fall) and began planning the semester. It seemed odd to us that all of a sudden there really were not that many days left before the event. However, this became a huge motivating factor with both the chapter and us. We found ourselves on the phone multiple times a day trying to organize events, get paperwork together, or making agendas for our reports in meetings. In January we were finally assigned our pen pal, Brooke. We had a letter writing party for her to make birthday cards since her 10th birthday was quickly approaching and we received spirit points for each one. Each month my co-chair and I brought construction paper and markers to the meeting so that we could keep in touch with her before meeting her at the final event. We also began promoting the Dance Marathon 5K put on by Overall and continuing the drives from fall. Our meeting fundraiser became Wanda Wenis, which showcased the fine elbows of the ladies in Gamma Epsilon and asked brothers to vote for their favorite with money.
At our first delegate meeting of the spring semester (these became bi-weekly) we were informed of the upcoming Dance Marathon 5K and Mini-Marathon, the high school version of Dance Marathon. My co-chair and I went to visit this event which had the teens standing for 12 hours. During January, we began t-shirt check-ins, participated in a toy drive, and continued the cell phone and ink cartridge drive from the previous semester. Team applications were also due this month and we had four brothers serve on two teams during the event. Final dancer registration was due at the very end of January and we had another seven brothers sign-up to participate.
At the next delegate meeting we started with a “miracle moment.” Our Overall Dancer Relations chair showed us a little knit hat that goes on the premature infants at Shands. It was the size of a small doll’s hat and it really reminded me of why I wanted to raise money for these children.
February began with a bake sale at the rushee voting meeting which raised around $50 dollars in a few hours. The first big event of the month was the Dance Marathon 5K, which had hundreds of runners participate in it. My co-chair and I had a dancer bonding sleepover the night before so that people may not only learn about Dance Marathon and bond before the event, but also sleep in one place and wake-up to go to the event together early the next morning. February was also the host of our two biggest fundraisers of the year: Canning and Date Auction. The weekend of February 16th, brothers did shifts of 4 each for a half-day on Friday and full day on Sunday standing on a busy intersection collecting money in buckets. It raised around $800 in just a day-and-a-half.
Just a few days later, we held our annual Date Auction in which brothers sell themselves to clean someone’s house or take them on a “date.” This event raised $2,600 alone! Because money turn-in day was at the end of the week (this is when dancers must have each earned their $300 to participate or else they cannot dance), the chapter also saw a significant increase in online donations as 18 dancers need to be paid for (that totals to $5,400). Once we had secured our base amount of money, the final push for donations began. The final weekend of February was Family Weekend for Gamma Epsilon, and also Family Day at the Zoo. There is a local teaching zoo at a community college in Gainesville and organizations set-up booths with prizes and the miracle children and their families come and we meet all of them. We had a face painting booth with our pair and many brothers brought their family members with them to the event, which also earned us many spirit points.
My co-chair and I also had to start the magazine drive, hyping up Mr. and Mrs. DM, beginning to brainstorm for the lip sync competition, collecting money for the Pancake Breakfast fundraiser, and collecting dancer buddy lists (these are people that are paired with a dancer to keep their morale up and bring them things during the event). My spring break, conveniently, was with my co-chair and even during our relaxation we spent countless hours working on Dance Marathon events as the event was only 18 days away.
Once we returned from break, March events, by far the busiest month for the event and delegates, were in full swing. Upon returning, the 34th Street Wall was painted to publicize the event and pairs and earn spirit points. This allows each pair or individual organization to paint a large chunk of the wall that faces one of the main arterials in Gainesville. Lip Sync rehearsals also began and continued through the week, one night going until 1 AM. At the second-to-last delegate meeting of the semester, the due dates for everything were announced (which all basically fell on the same day) and the inspiration and motivation were pumped into all the delegates. The mandatory dancer meeting was held the next night and gave dancers helpful tips for the event as well as morning of procedure. The weekend before the event was Gamma Epsilon’s regional event, GET SLAM’D, and this worked two-fold for us. The lip sync competition, Battle for Shands, was held the Friday night of GET SLAM’D and brothers from our own chapter as well as visiting chapters came to cheer us on and also signed in for spirit points. We were practically our own section and we won first place! The next morning the Pancake Breakfast was held by Overall, but the money went to each organization based on the amount of tickets they sold. Our ICR chairs had an option for brothers attending to purchase a ticket and we sold 42 in the end.
The next week, the overall events slowed down with the exception of a few remaining spirit point events and my co-chair and I began focusing our efforts on not only reaching our fundraising goal of $18,000 but also getting everything ready for before the event. We had to put together the dancer gift bags which included making 11X17 picture frames which would allow the dancers to frame their dancer numbers and a group picture, and also put in the small gifts. We had to collect medical release forms from everyone to turn in at the final delegate meeting and keep everyone still excited, despite the hectic nature of the final days.
Event Summary: The morning of March 31st rapidly arrived and, while it seemed that my co-chair and I would be finished as soon as the event started, it really just began. Once everyone had arrived and check-in had been completed (we had 16 dancers in the end), I could not leave because I was dancing, but my co-chair could. She had the task of printing out the group picture taken before the event and placing them in the frames in between her morale team shifts. I was there to mediate between Overall and dancers as they generally would only talk to a delegate about any problems. During the 32-hours, Gamma Epsilon never failed to display their selflessness and passion for Dance Marathon. Even at 4 A.M., there was someone visiting or bringing something for a tired dancer. No one hesitated to give foot or back massages or piggyback rides when the dancers felt as though they could stand no more. The idea behind this whole event is so that people truly understand the pain that these children have gone through. Even though we are tired and our feet hurt, that really only equals a little amount of the pain that these children have had to endure. Being awake for 32-hours is probably quite minuscule when you compare the endless sleepless nights that the children and families have had. Missing the Men’s Basketball team repeat their Final Four win reminded us all that these kids have had to miss a birthday party or something equally as fun because they were too ill to attend. Seeing the children and their families and hearing their stories while standing for their cause and knowing we were helping future miracle children was more than inspirational, it was awe-inspiring. When the final hour had expired, we found ourselves sitting on the floor, waiting for the final total and for our placement within our category. We came in the 3rd in the highest category for money raised! We have only been in this category for two years and both times we have placed. That is a very difficult feat considering that we are not a Greek organization and we have about one-third the membership as the other organizations we were against. We raised a new Gamma Epsilon high of $17, 044.45, $11, 325 of that coming from just online donations. Even though we did not reach our goal of $18,000, the success and feeling of worth came from knowing that not only had we outdone ourselves again, but we are helping save that many more children’s lives.