Meet Campus Celeb: Sarah Madonia, President of Illinois Dance Marathon

Four years ago, Sarah Madonia found her love for Illinois Dance Marathon at her first marathon freshman year. From then on, she continued to support IDM from different positions, climbing her way onto the executive board, until she reached her dream of president her senior year. Find out more on Sarah’s journey to lead IDM to outstanding things!

HC: What exactly is Dance Marathon?

Sarah Madonia: Dance Marathon is a nationwide initiative that raises money for Children's Miracle Network. Illini Dance Marathon is a 13-hour event that raises money for St. John's Children's Hospital. It takes place in the Arc and is a lock-in overnight. There are different games, activities, entertainment and raffles throughout the night to celebrate the students' fundraising efforts. The most special part of the night is when our Miracle Families get on stage and share their stories. It is the most moving experience to hear about what these children have overcome and the challenges they still face.

HC: When did you first become interested in IDM?

SM: I became involved in IDM right when I got on campus freshmen year. The organization was really new at the time, so I was able to quickly get a leadership position and I worked my way up from a chair, to VP to President. The moment I learned more about IDM's efforts, I immediately fell in love with this cause.

HC: What was your favorite part about being the president of IDM?

SM: My favorite part of my year as president of IDM was at the end of our marathon when we revealed our final fundraising total. I was so proud to stand on stage and announce this total to all of our executive board, the hospital staff, our Miracle Families and every participant. This year our goal was to break 6 figures and not only did we do that, but we surpassed it by way more than I ever expected, raising $124,830.96! While I didn't get us to that total by myself, it was a special moment for me, as president, to present that total to everyone.

HC: What inspired you to want to be the president?

SM: I wanted to be president of IDM because I knew I could take our organization to new levels. This was only our 6th annual event (we're the youngest Dance Marathon within the Big 10), so I really wanted us to grow and catch up with some of the other schools. I knew that my dedication to the cause and leadership would get us there!

HC: What was the most challenging part of running IDM this year?

SM: The most challenging thing about IDM is that we haven't gotten full university support yet. Many universities, such as Iowa or Indiana, have the full support of their university, meaning they have both financial and public support. Because we are a much smaller and newer organization, the university hasn't quite jumped on board yet. This year, breaking 6 figures definitely helped us and turned some heads in our direction, so we're hoping the University of Illinois realized how important this cause is and will help us get to be as big of some of the other universities who raise over $1,000,000!

HC: What are you most proud of?

SM: I am most proud of the difference we have made in the lives of our Miracle Families. So many people think that college students just care about going out and partying, so it feels really good to show the university and the community that college students care about making a difference and bettering the world. So many of the parents of sick children came up to me during the night to tell me that this night was the highlight of their year. Celebrating these deserving families and seeing a smile on their face has been the proudest moment of my life!