Concordia University Dance Marathon Parties ‘For The Kids’


Sam Scheltens

A party was clearly happening on campus, as music flowed out from the South Gym doors into the open Saturday night air. 

Concordia University Dance Marathon hosted their annual event on March 27, 2021, after the culmination of their year-long fundraising campaign. From 6 p.m. to midnight, nearly one hundred dancers were continuously dancing and raising more money before the final announcement of the grand total amount of money raised in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

“Concordia University Dance Marathon specifically supports Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago,” said junior Jesse Muehler, executive director of CUDM. “All the money we raise goes straight to the hospital, to help them provide uncompensated care, support services and other things like that for both the children and families that they serve.” 

Concordia University Dance Marathon’s motto is “For The Kids,” often seen abbreviated as FTK. Kayla McCloud, now a senior at Concordia University Chicago, was one of the kids who has received care from Lurie Children’s Hospital. After injuring her elbow and spine while playing basketball at the age of 13, it was the team of doctors at Lurie’s that helped her pull through and succeed beyond her injuries. 

“I was seeing a lot of different doctors at a bunch of hospitals in the Chicagoland area, including Loyola Children’s Hospital and Shriner’s Children’s Hospital,” McCloud said. “But it wasn’t until I started seeing a team of doctors at Lurie’s that I started to see legit improvements. I was able to have my final elbow and brain surgery at Lurie’s after having multiple doctors team up to find out the best course of action. The doctors I had at Lurie’s gave me hope to have a normal adulthood, after missing most of my teenage years.”

This year was McCloud’s fourth year speaking at the Big Event, sharing her story and how Lurie Children’s Hospital has helped her. 

“Being able to share my experience and have a platform such as CUDM… it makes me so happy… It leaves me speechless,” McCloud said. “[CUDM] has been so great for me. … Every year it’s gotten bigger and it’s gotten more people involved, I see new faces every year. It makes me feel great that we have these events where more people are learning about the great things that Lurie’s has done, not just for me but for every other kid who’s gone through tough times and Lurie’s been there, helped them through it.”

As it is with everything in the last year, CUDM had to change their strategy for fundraising and ultimately, their approach on how to have the event itself. With COVID protocols, CUDM had to limit how many dancers they had in the room at one time, so they divided the dancers into two shifts to allow for more spacing and keep the total occupancy down. But CUDM had seen other changes before ever reaching this event. 

“A majority of CUDM has been word of mouth for the past 4 years, but this year we weren’t there to have face to face interactions with our dancers, with our students, faculty and staff at Concordia,” said Muehler. “But the executive team that I had, they crushed all my expectations.” 

“We sort of had to be realistic about what COVID has brought on,” said Dean of Students Kathy Gebhardt, who is also the CUDM faculty advisor. “Surprisingly, we’ve done okay—we had a good year.”

CUDM raised $20,407.49 for the 2020-2021 academic year, which is almost $400 more than last year. 

If you’d like to keep up with what Concordia Dance Marathon is up to, check them out on Instagram @concordiaudm, or via Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.