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CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa Dance Marathon set a lofty fundraising goal this year, and a sold-out benefit concert by “American Idol” winner and Clarksville native Maddie Poppe is a hard push toward it.

“We had no idea it would sell out so quickly. It was quite a surprise to us,” said Mariah Staebell, executive co-director of the dance marathon.

Tickets for tonight’s concert at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center were released on two consecutive Mondays after it was announced Nov. 16. They sold out on both of those days.

“It’s a huge boost,” Staebell said. “We were able to fundraise a good chunk through this, and Maddie has given us some of her own fundraising ideas.”

UNI Dance Marathon is a student-run organization that raises money for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City and the Children’s Miracle Network. Throughout the year, all money raised through UNI Dance Marathon supports four areas at the hospital — research, education, equipment and enhancements. The fundraising year culminates with the 12-hour Dance Marathon in March, when the total amount raised is announced. That event takes place March 2 in Maucker Union on the UNI campus.

“It’s a 12-hour event, and at the end is the big reveal,” said event executive co-director Abbey Koerperich, a psychology major from Dubuque.

The fundraising goal for this year’s campaign is $620,000. Last year’s goal of $500,000 was exceeded by more than $50,000.

“UNI is known for exceeding its goals by a lot,” Staebell said.

The UNI Dance Marathon fundraising effort has capitalized on the Hawkeye Wave, now in its second season, in which football fans at Iowa Hawkeyes’ Kinnick Stadium wave to the children in Stead hospital, which overlooks the football field.

“When we talk to community members we tell them it’s the hospital that has the wave. We build off that with our pitch,” said Staebell, a public relations major from Rock Falls, Ill.

The co-directors have banked on the popularity of Poppe, as well. A student on the UNI Dance Marathon media committee is friends with the artist and reached out to her to see if she’d be willing to do a fundraising concert.

“We knew she was going to be on break in December and we knew we wanted to partner with her,” Koerperich said. “We just ran with it and put it together in about two weeks.”

Koerperich and Staebell will be at Poppe’s concert to present information to a packed house about the purpose of the dance marathon.

“This concert is bringing in a lot of people, and we’re excited to help them understand what the dance marathon is and how they can help,” Koerperich said.

For more information or to get involved with the dance marathon fundraiser, go to www.unidancemarathon.com.

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Lifestyles and Features Editor

Lifestyles Editor for The Courier

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