Jagathon wins national Miracle Maker Award for fundraising success

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Members of the 2017 Jagathon executive board

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jagathon, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' Dance Marathon, received the 2017 Miracle Maker Award from Children's Miracle Network Hospitals at the Dance Marathon Leadership Conference, hosted by the University of Maryland.

The national award recognizes the university in each division with the highest combined monetary and percentage increases in their overall funding over the last year. Divisions are based on how long the school has been involved with Dance Marathon.

Jagathon raised a program-record $351,430.22 last year, an improvement on 2016's total of $140,049.94. That 151 percent fundraising growth and $211,380.28 monetary increase was the greatest in the country for dance marathons in IUPUI's division.

All donations collected for Jagathon benefit Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. IUPUI students raise funds throughout the year using methods ranging from donation cans around the city to social media campaigns. They also volunteer their time in the community, allowing organizations to "pay" them with contributions to Jagathon.

In 2017, the Jagathon organization also raised nearly $51,000 during the one-day Celebration of Miracles on Feb. 1, more than doubling what the student-run 24-hour fundraising event collected the previous year.

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Jagathon increased its fundraising total by 151 percent between its 2016 and 2017 dance marathons. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

"It's definitely a group effort. There's no way that anything in Dance Marathon can be attributed to one person because this is such a campus project," said Ali Emswiller, who was the event's vice president of finance last year and is now president of Jagathon.

"We accepted this award on behalf of everybody who helped us get there. IUPUI as a campus community has come together more and more throughout the years in many ways, but with Jagathon, I think it's something that a lot of people can relate to and identify with because Riley is right on our campus. It's definitely a campus and community initiative that led us there."

Also winning Miracle Maker awards were Florida State University in the Year 15+ division, Kennesaw State University in the Year 5-9 division, University of West Florida in the Year 2-4 division and University of Central Oklahoma in the Year 1 division.

The Jagathon Dance Marathon returns March 3-4, 2018. The event will expand from 13.1 hours last spring to 15 hours in an effort to bring additional donations and excitement to campus.

"I'm confident that with the support of our campus and community partners, we'll be able to increase our numbers and overall involvement even more, but we're starting from the beginning now, and we have to do everything that we did last year and then some," said Emswiller, who plans to attend graduate school for nonprofit management after completing her bachelor's degree in sports management through the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management in the spring.

"We can't just be confident based on last year. We've got to put the work in, and hopefully it pans out to where we can improve. I think it will, but everybody's got to come on the journey with us."

The largest student-run philanthropic organization on campus, Jagathon is part of the IUPUI Student Foundation, which encourages students to serve their community by gaining experience in planning and executing campuswide events.

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