116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — An event organized by three Iowa BIG students later this month will rally support for local businesses while raising money to fight pediatric cancer.
Some businesses in the Czech Village New Bohemia District are partnering with the Iowa BIG event, the first Dance Marathon Community Day, on June 24 to raise funds for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
The event will feature raffles, silent auctions, guest speakers affected by pediatric cancer and music at NewBo City Market as part of its “Rock The Block” concert taking place that day. The band Full Circle is performing and will start at 6 p.m., but the event is all day for the participating businesses.
“We just really want everybody as much as the community down to see how great the area is and all the wonderful businesses that are in that area and really push supporting local, but also doing it for a great cause,” Prairie High School graduate Lauren Whinery said.
She is organizing the event through Iowa BIG along with Kennedy High School graduates Mariah DeWulf and Olivia Scott.
“In the beginning, the (COVID-19) pandemic was always like, ‘Support local,’ and then as the pandemic has slowly gone over the years, we feel that it kind of gets brushed over,” DeWulf said. “Our goal is to bring back that support local … and just bring feet into the door and have some traffic their way.”
Fourteen local businesses are supporting the event by donating a percentage of their profits that day or donating some sort of gift basket for the silent auction. The University of Iowa Dance Marathon student organization is partnering with an online donation portal to contribute funds to the Children’s Hospital.
Some of the businesses are doing event-specific dishes or drinks, including Brewhemia, Scott said. There also will be event-specific shirts people can buy on the day of the event.
“We're highlighting all of the NewBo area and all of the downtown area, but specifically highlighting those businesses and encouraging attendees throughout June 24 to go and get an appetizer, check out this little local shop and just really bringing people into the area,” Scott said.
They also will create a scavenger hunt for people to go around to each of the participating businesses, check off each business they go to and earn a free chance at the silent auction once they reach a certain number of businesses, Scott said.
“By creating a scavenger hunt, we're allowing for more people to go at least explore the businesses that are down in the area,” Whinery said, helping to involve businesses that were not able to contribute financially to the event.
Their goal is to raise $1,500 through sponsors and they currently are at $1,000, DeWulf said, and they are continuing to meet with more potential sponsors.
Having multiple levels of support between attendees, businesses and sponsors is part of their effort “to get everyone in the community involved to support two really great causes,” Scott said.
As the three prepare to go to college — DeWulf to UI, Scott to Loyola University Chicago and Whinery to University of Alabama — they hope to pass the event down to Iowa BIG students to organize again in the future.
“It's our goal to maybe establish this really good event and then next year, Iowa BIG tries to find people to work in these groups and maybe a group like us could come in and fill, because cancer is never going to go away, supporting local isn't going to go away,” DeWulf said.
For more information and inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Dance Marathon Community Day Facebook page.
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