“There was one week a few years ago that was pretty bad that,” he said. “Over the past few years, we have made very conscious efforts to reel (the recruiters) in.”
Leonard said the recruiters’ enthusiasm comes from the desire to get students involved.
“We are excited because we want other people to get excited about it,” he said.
The retention rate of registered dancers is usually about 50 percent, a drop-off caused by a combination of factors, Leonard said.
“We definitely realize Carolina is a last-minute kind of place,” he said. “Raising $150 can be a little intimidating the closer you get to it, and this year we are definitely making a bigger effort for our morale captains to start fundraising earlier with our dancers.”
Senior Garrett Pedersen has danced every marathon since his freshman year.
“It is more of a mental battle than it is a physical battle,” he said. “Anyone can do it. You just have to know that you can do it.”
Sophomore Sydney Mark has a personal connection with Dance Marathon’s mission. When she was born, a doctor tore a nerve in her shoulder, leaving it partially paralyzed.
“I feel that it’s so important to help these kids and their families, because I do have my own sort of medical issue,” she said. “I have been so fortunate to not have to be in a hospital for that long and not have to go through some of the things these families are going through.”
She says she danced the whole time thanks to friends.
“We decided we would do this thing where we stood in a circle, all put one leg up and held each other’s legs so we could relax and be off the ground,” she said.
Pedersen said his favorite part is the hour when affected families tell their stories.
“I have cried all three years,” he said. “You realize that, ‘Wow, I’m actually doing something that’s a lot greater than myself.’”