What is Dakotathon?

Dakotathon is USD's version of the nationally known fund raiser Dance Marathon. It is a year-round student run organization that works to support patients being treated at Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls. All of the money we raise goes to help local families and children right here in South Dakota. Dakotathon culminates with a 24 hour long event in April.

How do I get involved? What can I do?

You can start by getting signed up today! Traditionally, most people get involved their first year by signing up to be a dancer. Once you get signed up you will be assigned a Morale Captain who will help make sure you are able to raise you money and help keep you informed of what's happening with the organization. After participating your first year, if you are interested, there are tons of ways to get more involved on our leadership team. You can become a Morale Captain, or eventually even a member of the Executive Team!

What do all these terms mean?

A little confused about what Dancers, Morale Captains, and Executive Team mean? Browse through the vocabulary commonly used during Dakotathon.


FTK is one of the most commonly used slogans at any school’s Dance Marathon. This jumble of letters stands for “For The Kids”. You will hear FTK, see FTK, and eventually live FTK! After participating in Dakotathon, you will understand that FTK truly means something amazing.

Happy DM!

This phrase is often shouted by anyone taking part in Dakotathon. It stands for “Happy Dance Marathon!” (USD’s Dance Marathon = Dakotathon). If this is shouted, you are expected to yell back at the top of your lungs, “Happy DM!”

Morale Dance

The Morale Dance is a dance that is periodically taught throughout Dakotathon. The dance is set to a single song that has a mix of around 20 different songs put together in one big mash-up. The entire event ends with everyone dancing the entire Morale Dance. If you are not a good dancer don’t let that stop you, just remember FTK!


Dakotathon is run mainly by 19 students and a faculty advisor which comprise the Executive Team (Exec for short). They meet once a week to plan every aspect of Dakotathon. The responsibilities of the Exec Team range from fundraising, to event planning, to creating the dance, and much, much more. Should you have any questions during Dakotathon, these are the people to ask!

Morale Captains

Below Exec in the Dakotathon hierarchy are the Morale Captains. These individuals have been meeting twice a month since October to learn the Morale Dance. They are also in charge of a group of dancers that make up their Morale Group.


Dancers are the heart and soul of Dakotathon. These are all students that sign up and are not Exec or Morale Captains. Dancers are considered “normal” participants in Dakotathon. If you haven’t already, sign up as a dancer today!

Miracle Family/Child

The families and children of Children’s Miracle Network are the reason why Dakotathon exists. All of the fundraising, effort, and time you dedicate is to show support for these families and children. Each Morale Group is assigned a Miracle Child for the entire 24 hours to give them the time of their lives!

Family Talk

Every Miracle Family has the opportunity to share their story with all of Dakotathon’s participants. These stories are truly incredible and often remind you why Dakotathon is such a wonderful event.

How do I raise my money?

Even though $117 may sound like a lot to raise, it's not very hard to do! There are many ways to raise your money. You can write letters to family members asking for donations or you can also take advantage of our online donor drive system. All you have to do is email your friends and family and ask them to visit your own personal online donor page. This means you can raise your money without even getting out of your chair!

That’s $10 from 11 people plus a $7 donation from yourself or $20 from 6 people, and you will have exceeded $117.

(Each of you most likely knows 20 people who can give $15, which would total $300!)

These people are your neighbors from home, your professors, teachers from home, family friends, family members, old co-workers, current co-workers and your friends! Don't be afraid to ask and be sure to tell how much of a difference this event makes in our local communities.

Use this sample letter as a guide to asking for money. Good luck!

(For best results, use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome to open the sample letter)

Do I have to dance for 24 hours?

No, but you are least strongly encouraged to do so! Dakotathon is a really incredible experience that is hard to put into words until you actually experience it for yourself! During the 24 hours you will experience a wide variety of events and activities, not just dancing. It is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences you will ever have. You get to meet the families and children you are helping, and after meeting them, it is impossible not to have a blast throughout the entire event!

Who are the families that Dakotathon supports?

Dakotathon supports all families and children who are receiving treatments at Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 100% of the funds go to local families right here in South Dakota. Your hard work and dedication makes a true difference to people in your communities.