Ziggython to return this weekend bigger than ever

It’s a new year for the University’s Dance Marathon, and this year the organization’s steering committee is anticipating their main event, “Ziggython,” to be bigger than ever.

The 32-hour long event will begin Saturday, April 5, at 10 a.m. in the Perry Field House, a new location compared to past years, as the Student Recreation Center undergoes renovations.

Dance Marathon’s goal this year is $500,000. This past year the organization was able to raise more than $313,000. All the money raised will be donated to Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo.

Fundraising to meet this year’s goal has been in the works since this past fall, said Alyssa Cannella, Dance Marathon’s community outreach chair.

A benefit dinner was hosted in the fall, which raised $12,000 to go toward the main goal. Mini-marathon was hosted in February and raised more than $10,000.

“The feedback has been so positive,” she said. “I think there’s more buzz about [Dance Marathon] this year than in past years because we’ve reached out to so many people.”

The organization’s 2014 campaign is “This is the New Year.” According to Holly Hemminger, assistant director of internal affairs, more students are embracing the warm welcome.

She said the organization has seen a 200 percent increase in those who signed up to be a dancer, with more than 300 registered dancers.

“We want to be extremely welcoming to everybody,” she said. “It’s about the value of every kind of participant, whether you’re a dancer, morale or a guest just coming to check it out.”

Hemminger said she wants all students to feel welcome to come to this year’s event.

Students are able to register as a guest, free of charge, at “Ziggython.” Donations are encouraged, but not required for admission and students are able to stay as long as they would like.

In addition to the increase in dancers, Hemminger said there will also be more than 40 “miracles,” or children from Mercy Children’s Hospital present at the event, which is also an increase from last year.

Hemminger said because some of the miracle children are younger and leave at night to go to sleep, students are encouraged to come and keep up the energy. There will be different events every hour for students and families to take part in.

There will be specific themes for every hour, including New Year’s Eve hour, in which the Field House will take the theme of New York City as it would be on New Year’s Ever, as well as philanthropy hour and Giant Hour.

Giant Hour will include inflatables, giant hamster balls, giant tricycles and more. A variety of games and a rave will also be among the activities in the 32-hour time frame.

On Sunday the final fundraising total will be revealed to the miracle families, organization and students. During the closing ceremonies the Bikes for Tikes participants will also be riding in from their 180-mile cycling trip from Cincinnati. Lexie Miller, a sophomore at the University and member of the Bikes for Tikes Core Committee, said the bikers’ goal this year is $100,000. Last year they raised $98,000.

“I love being involved with the organization,” Miller said. “I knew the goal was going to be difficult, but I was willing to take the challenge; every donation counts.”

Miller had to raise at least $1,000 to participate in the cycling ride and said with the help of friends and family, she was able to go above it at $1,003.

The conclusion of the event is open to anyone. Closing ceremonies begin between 3 and 4 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Perry Field House.