Despite a low-energy start to Block 3, dancers erupted in applause when GiGi — who Dance Marathon beneficiary GiGi’s Playhouse is named after — took the stage.
“I don’t think most 14-year-olds are out on a stage at this time of the night,” said Nancy Gianni, GiGi’s mother and the organization’s founder. “And if they are, they’re not up to something good like she is.”
The crowd cheered on as GiGi showed off her dance moves, and Gianni then reminded dancers of the wide reach the beneficiary will have with the funds raised by DM, from developing free educational and therapeutic programs to advocating for speech therapy.
Gianni spoke about the physical, emotional and financial difficulties she faced after receiving a prenatal diagnosis showing GiGi had Down syndrome. With 31 community playhouses and more than 200 applications to extend its reach worldwide, Gianni said even a single story “has triggered a series of miracles.”
“I did not know that the birth of GiGi and the shocking diagnosis of Down’s syndrome would be such a miracle,” she said. “Together we are changing the world one child, one diagnosis, one community and now one campus at a time.”
Weinberg sophomore Alex Probst, who is participating in DM for the second time, said Gianni’s speech helped remind students why they devoted a lot of time fundraising and dancing in the tent.
“Me and everyone around me were talking about how inspiring (Gianni’s speech) was and how we’re doing this for such a great cause and for such deserving groups of families,” she said.
Midway through the block, actress Lisa Kudrow and singer Andra Day appeared in celebrity videos, cheering on the dancers and acknowledging students’ role in promoting social change.
Day sang and danced along to the popular Bee Gees song “You Should Be Dancing,” encouraging participants to keep dancing no matter how tired they are.
“You guys are changing the world with what you’re doing right here and we love you so much for it,” Day said.
Members of the Dancer and Beneficiary Relations committee wrapped up the block with a game of “Ships and Sailors” to get the crowd’s energy up.
After about nine hours of dancing, popsicles were handed out at the end of the block as dancers made it closer to the annual sunrise run around Norris University Center.
Email: [email protected]
Email: @[email protected]