IOWA Magazine | 02-08-2021

Dance Marathon Alumni Group Leaders Share Why They Give Back

Nic and Kayla Rusher reveal how University of Iowa Dance Marathon has shaped their lives—and why they continue to volunteer For The Kids.
Kayla and Nic
Rusher PHOTO: JULIANA NOELLE JUMPER Dance Marathon Alumni Group volunteers Kayla and Nic Rusher hold up a quilt of Dance Marathon shirts they've worn to support patients at UI Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Dance Marathon Alumni Group President Nic Rusher (11BA, 13MHA) and his wife, Kayla Caldwell Rusher (15BFA), marvel every year at the good Dance Marathon brings to the lives of pediatric cancer patients and their families at University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

More than a decade of volunteering with Dance Marathon—first as students and then as alumni—has changed their lives, too.

Quilt of Dance
Marathon Shirts PHOTO: JULIANA NOELLE JUMPER Each quilt patch evokes memories of a past Dance Marathon for the Rushers.

The Rushers met as students in the organization, which holds an annual 24-hour dance-a-thon to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, treatment, and support for patients and families. Now Kayla is studying to be a physician assistant at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and Nic is director of strategic intelligence at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Nic credits the connections and leadership skills he developed through Dance Marathon for directing him toward a career in health administration. "There are just so many positive and impactful experiences from Dance Marathon that have helped shape the trajectories of a lot of people's lives," he says.

Although Dance Marathon went virtual this year, DMAG continued its mission to rally alumni around the cause. Every year, alumni raise about $100,000 for Dance Marathon, often through social events in Chicago, Des Moines, Kansas City, and the Twin Cities. Nic says interest in the Big Event grows each year, even among those who never took part while in college. To join the cause, visit

Get Involved With an Alumni Affinity Group

The Dance Marathon Alumni Group is one of several University of Iowa affinity groups currently seeking volunteer board members. Learn more about our alumni affinity groups, and consider volunteering for a board position for the following groups with openings:

  • Dance Marathon Alumni Group
  • Iowa Women's Leadership Network
  • Latino-Native American Alumni Alliance
  • LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
  • Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Leadership Group
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