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The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Ziggython falls short of fundraising goal, almost doubles amount of dancers participating


Members of the various teams dance on the stage during Ziggython.

Dance Marathon hosted its final and main event, Ziggython, this past weekend. This year’s theme was Miracles in the City.

A grand total of $275,484.33 was raised to be donated to Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo. The money will go toward toys and equipment for the children. Last year a total of $313,465.39 was raised.

Although the goal this year was $500,000, Assistant Director of Internal Affairs for Dance Marathon Holly Hemminger said the grand total was still higher than she expected.

“Last year we got two really big donations, so I still think this year’s total is amazing,” she said. “This whole experience was so much better than I ever could have imagined; I’m so excited to be an alumni next year.”

By 4 p.m. Sunday, the field house was packed with more than 1,000 guests to watch the biker run-in and learn the total reveal. In addition to a run-in for the bikers, a run-in was also held for the dancers, too.

“Coming in to see the kids’ faces and all the dancers was the best feeling ever; it just felt amazing,” said senior and Bikes for Tikes participant Mallory Carl.

The 152 participating bikers raised a total of $75,629.60 after their 180-mile trip from Cincinnati back to BG. Their goal this year was $100,000. This past year, 140 Bikes for Tikes participants were able to raise $98,299.

“After everything we’ve been through, it’s experiences like these that remind us we’re still a family. [Dance Marathon] impacts families in ways that we can’t express,” said Ben Fogle, parent of miracle child Maddie Fogle, at this year’s Dance Marathon.

The 32-hour event was hosted April 5 to 6 at the Perry Field House, where dancers stood on their feet for the entire duration to raise money for the participating miracle families. More than 40 miracle families were present for the event.

It’s the miracle families like the Fogles that gave 312 dancers, like Brianna Lawless, the motivation to spend 32 hours on their feet this past weekend.

“Hearing the families talk about their experience is inspiring,” Lawless said. “That’s what keeps me going.”

Ben Fogle and his wife Valerie gave birth to premature twins in 2009, Maddie and Ethan. Not even a month old, Ethan struggled with health complications and was life-flighted to a hospital in Ann Arbor while Maddie spent the first portion of her life in an incubator.

“No matter what happened, we knew we wanted to bring them home together,” said Fogle. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

The Fogles brought their twins home together, but not in the way they ever could have imagined.

Ethan went into cardiac arrest at less than a month old and died.

Fogle said that because of Mercy Children’s Hospital, their daughter, 4, is alive today. She will turn five next month.

“Everyone keeps the mood very positive and upbeat here [at Dance Marathon],” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to express gratitude because the mood is so positive, but the interaction they provide the kids is great.”

Families like the Fogles were able to share their stories during miracle family spotlight sessions. The parents and children spoke of their challenges throughout the entire event, down to the final hours.

“Having these sessions lets dancers see what these funds are going to,” said Cathy Moeller, Ziggython fundraising chair. “It puts a face to the whole purpose and reminds everyone why they’re doing this.”

The Dance Marathon Steering Committee wanted to make the event as special as possible, for both the families and the students participating.

Hour by hour, there was a different theme or event for everyone to take part in.

A capella groups Ten40 and Not Yet Perfect performed on stage to provide live entertainment to those around.

Decade Hour, which began at 2 a.m.— the halfway point for the dancers— featured music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Dancers and guests were able to learn dance moves from the past.

A rave to keep up the energy began at 3 a.m., after all the Miracle Families left for the night.

Even after the first 16 hours of dancing, sophomore and dancer Hannah Tempel said she wasn’t feeling drowsy yet.

“I’m sore; my feet hurt, but it’s been fun,” she said. “We’ve been learning new dances and playing games with the kids when they’re here, so it makes the time go by.”

After the grand total of more than $275,000 was revealed, dancers were able to sit with the bikers and miracle children as a net of balloons was released to celebrate the conclusion of Ziggython.

“This whole experience has been so uplifting; it’s hard to pick out one aspect of it that was the best,” said Doyle Stubleski, parent of miracle child Zoie Stubleski.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary for the University’s Dance Marathon. Opportunities to get involved for next year’s events open up as early as September.

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