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Comparing THON To Other Big Ten Dance Marathons

There is nothing else in the world quite like THON. It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and the largest dance marathon in the country. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the only dance marathon out there.

Across the country, there are several dance marathons that raise money for local children’s hospitals. Whether the events are big or small, all of the money raised goes to great places.

With that being said, we took a look at how THON stacks up to other similar dance marathons across the Big Ten.

University of Iowa Dance Marathon

Founded in 1994, the UI Dance Marathon has raised more than $33 million for patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The money goes to “emotional and financial support for pediatric oncology and bone marrow transfer patients,” according to its website.

The dance marathon lasts 24 hours and often features first-year students. Where it differs from THON is that if someone wants to dance, they would do so through the dance marathon itself rather than another organization on campus.

This year’s dance marathon already happened earlier in February and it raised $1.36 million for kids battling childhood cancer.

Indiana University Dance Marathon

IUDM hosted its first dance marathon in 1991 and has been growing ever since. The 36-hour event has raised more than $46 million for children at the Riley Hospital for Children, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. A quarter of the money raised goes to clinical expenses, while the rest goes to support research at the Riley Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

The unique part of this dance marathon is that dancers stand in the fall instead of the spring. It is also considered the second-largest student-run philanthropy in the world, only behind Penn State.

Northwestern University Dance Marathon

Founded in 1975, NUDM has almost been around as long as THON. Dancers stand for 30 hours in this version, but there is a huge difference between NUDM and THON: NUDM doesn’t have a set charity it raises money for.

It chooses a new primary philanthropy every year and has raised more than $22 million for 30 different philanthropies in its 48-year history. This year, Chicago Youth Programs is the beneficiary of NUDM, which will be held March 4-6.

Ohio State BuckeyeThon

BuckeyeThon is brand new in the grand scheme of things, hosting its first dance marathon in 2002. Since then, it has continued to grow in terms of participation and length of time. When created, it was only a 14-hour dance marathon, but now it’s been bumped up to 24 hours.

The goal for this year’s BuckeyeThon, which will take place in November, is to raise more than $2 million, which they last did in 2020.

Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan

The first dance marathon for DMUM happened in 1998, and it has been making an impact ever since. The event has raised $6.5 million over its 25-year history, donating it to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The interesting thing about DMUM is that the dance marathon itself is just a branch of what they do. The actual event is called VictorThon, which is when they stand for 24 hours raising money. Everyone will stand on March 26 and 27 this year.

Rutgers University Dance Marathon

RUDM has a complicated history, which makes it all the more interesting. Its roots date back to 1971, making it older than THON. However, it was only a fraternity dance marathon until 1987, and then it stopped completely. It wasn’t until 1998 that it returned as a community-based event.

For 2022, RUDM is one of the very few dance marathons that doesn’t have a double-digit run time this year. It is only going to run from 4-10 p.m. on April 2, however that is only because of COVID. Typically, it’s a 24-hour marathon.

Terp Thon

If you thought BuckeyeThon was a relatively young dance marathon, wait until you hear about Terp Thon, which was created just in 2009. It originally lasted for 19 hours, but has since changed to 12 hours and has remained that way.

Over 12 years, it has raised more than $5.7 million and will add to that total when it kicks off on March 12.

Purdue University Dance Marathon

Created in 2005, PUDM has been very active in raising money for the Riley Hospital for Children. It has raised more than $10 million in its relatively short history. Dancers stand for 18 hours over the course of the event.

PUDM entered into the mainstream after Tyler Trent’s fight against cancer went viral. While Trent is no longer with us, his story is widely cited as to why Boilermakers dance.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a junior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in secondary education and minoring in social justice in education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor", and yes mom, actually doing school work. If you would like to talk about sports or "Survivor", the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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