Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Dance marathon aims to be biggest student-run philanthropy event


A new fundraiser for United Way is being planned with hopes of becoming one of the largest and longest in Central Michigan University history.

“DanceFest” is a 15-hour dance marathon planned for Feb. 4 in the Student Activity Center and the Large Sports forum.

Kalamazoo sophomore Cameron Baker, president of DanceFest, said his hope is for the event to become bigger than Polar Plunge or Greek Week by including every sector of students on campus.

“We are trying to bring every corner of campus together under the largest student-ran, student-participatory event,” Baker said.

Entertainment will include DJs, dancing, games and food vendors from all over Michigan. The night will culminate with a large-scale flash mob of dancers who stayed all 15 hours, to be recorded and used as a promotional video for the next time the event is hosted.

For some, like Stan Shingles, hosting a dance marathon on campus reminds them of CMU’s past.

As the assistant vice president of University Recreation, Shingles said the university used to have smaller-scale dance marathons in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

“I’ve seen some photos of a dance marathon in Finch Fieldhouse before,” he said. “We didn’t have the Internet, we didn’t have video games — dance marathons were very popular during that time, especially (those that were) philanthropic.”

Greek Life, multiple Registered Student Organizations, the Student Government Association and others are expected to have a hand in creating and fundraising during the event.

A group of students have been working on the logistics since August. Now, a DanceFest RSO is dedicated to getting the event up and running.

Baker said the group has a goal of raising $75,000 for United Way. They chose United Way of Gratiot and Isabella County because it is a well-respected name in the area that benefits local people, Baker said.

“This will be a great opportunity since it’s the first year of planning this event,” he said. “We’re hoping it will become a trademark of philanthropy at CMU.”

Shingles’s department, University Recreation, will help the DanceFest RSO figure out logistics for where to put everything and outsource for set up.

Since the event is run by a student organization and occurs mostly within hours the SAC is closed, renting space will be free. However, cost for setting up staging and so forth is a different matter. DanceFest organizers won’t have estimates of cost until further into the planning stage.

As this is the first year for DanceFest, the RSO is looking for sponsors to help them bring the vision to life.

“One of our big-picture goals is that every year this is going to be the kickoff to spring philanthropy,” Baker said.

The SGA Spirits and Traditions Committee is lending a helping hand through the planning process.

Baker, who is also committee chairman, said one of the committee’s biggest duties from now on will be helping the DanceFest RSO plan this event.

Ian Elliott, SGA president, stressed that ownership of the event doesn’t belong to an individual group, but instead is a result of “a meeting of the minds” from several areas on campus — from Greek Life to SGA.

Mitchell Talaki, a senior from Milford and president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, was the first person to pitch the idea. He first thought of having a dance marathon on campus when he and a couple of friends went down to Ohio State University for the weekend.

“A couple of girls were saying they were really excited to do it (at Ohio State),” Talaki said. “After talking with them, I thought it was a cool idea that would be interesting to do at CMU.”