For the 2011-2012 school year, the Kinesiology Club at St. Ambrose was led by President Sara (Oberhoffer) McCaffrey and Vice President Stephanie Garner; myself and a few other students rounded out a leadership team of 5 or 6 total students. That year, we decided we wanted to expand the Kin Club's footprint on campus and in the community. Part of that effort was to do more philanthropic work, so Sara and Steph started looking into a variety of ideas; one of which was to do a dance marathon. They floated the idea by the rest of the leadership team, and we all thought it sounded like a fun idea. Little did we know that "dance marathon" was really Dance Marathon.
Sara and Steph did some asking around and got in touch with Children's Miracle Network. Unknown to the two of them, another group-- headed by student Emily Fritz and staff member Chelsea Harrison-- had also reached out to CMN. After a few emails (and a lot of confusion), everyone finally got on the same page and all met up. As a larger group, we met with Chelsea Harrison (who would become the first SAU DM advisor), CMN representative Sarah Brumwell, and SAU's Director of Student Life Jason Richter. At that meeting, we decided to separate from the Kin Club and formally create SAU Dance Marathon as an official "club" on campus in February 2012.
Personally, it's been nothing shy of incredible to see SAU DM grow to like it has. I can't speak for the other 9 members of the leadership team for SAU DM 0.5, or for the other 7 executive board members for SAU DM 1, but I never imagined it would turn out to be this incredible. Every year my wife Amanda and I say to each other, "I don't know how they're going to top this next year." And then the next year rolls around, and we end up in awe again....and saying "I don't know how they're going to top this next year." Because when we started it way back in 2012, we were just this small group of students on a campus that was not overly involved in on-campus life. We were optimistic, but we were realistic; we hoped for a couple of people and a few thousand dollars. To think it's in the hundreds of students, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and dozens of families... I have to pinch myself sometimes to check and make sure it's all real.
Bright orange never meant anything to me before 2012... but it does now. Now it means hope, pride, optimism, and a fighting spirit For The Kids.
-Mark C. Brauweiler, Co-Founder of SAU DM & 2013 Alumni