Alex Linden

The University of Iowa’s largest student organization has given a $2 million gift to create a faculty position to lead the pediatric cancer research program.

The U-I Dance Marathon’s gift marks the first student-funded chair in U-I history and it will pay for a new position in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics. Alex Linden, executive director of the Dance Marathon, calls it an “amazing opportunity” to support steps toward a cure.

Linden says, “What this fund, this new special project, will allow us to do is to really bring in a leader in clinical and translational research to make sure that anything that’s happening in the lab, the discoveries that the researchers are finding, that can be translated into medicine, into taking care of children.”

Dance marathons at the U-I have been held for decades, but this year’s event will be the 24th annual marathon in its current form. “We require that our students fundraise a minimum amount of money in order to attend the event,” Linden says. “They can range anywhere between $500 to $1,000 to get your ticket punched into the big event. Right now, we have just short of 3,000 students registered.”

Linden is a U-I senior from Sioux City, studying biochemistry and public health. Over the past two-dozen years, he says the U-I Dance Marathon has raised more than $21 million to support pediatric cancer patients and their families.

“Because it’s student-run and a non-profit, we really do guarantee that the funds are going to the children and the families and the children’s hospital,” Linden says. “I don’t get paid to do what I do and oftentimes, it’s more than a full-time job, but it’s a testament to our students that they are willing to put in hours upon hours a week to make sure that we do the most that we can for the kids.”

This year’s 24-hour-long dance marathon is scheduled for February 2nd and 3rd at the Iowa Memorial Union.