Faces of the U: A timeline of a good cause

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

There was anticipation in the air.

Dozens of students crammed around an oddly shaped circle marked off with caution tape in the Union Ballroom.

Nervous whispers and questioning mumbles went back and forth through the mass in a wave of excitement.

At exactly 8:30 p.m., overhead speakers were turned on, blasting “We Will Rock You” as the anticipating audience stomped and clapped along.

Finally, a bouncing line of students clad in red clothes ran into the circle as the crowd’s screams drowned the music. Among them was Tiffany Evans, who wore a red shirt, a light blue hoodie, a flowing green skirt, one spandex white pant leg, flip flops and a messy braid to one side.

The freshman in early childhood education flew from her home at Boston University to participate in the 26.2-hour Rock the U dance marathon to benefit the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Evans said the dance marathon was the highlight of her Spring Break. The Salt Lake City native was part of the “Hoodies,” a team she formed with several of her friends from high school.

From the time the music started blaring, Evans and her friends were on their feet for more than a full day.

Evans said she didn’t do anything special to prepare. She was planning to sleep a couple of extra hours, but otherwise, she couldn’t catch any Z’s because of her anticipation.

She did, however, eat a “hearty dinner” to keep her energy going, she said.

Evans’ grandmother was also a source of motivation for her participation in the event. Her grandmother has survived breast cancer twice. The two dined together several days before the marathon.

“She doesn’t treat (cancer) like an issue because she doesn’t want it to limit her,” Evans said of her grandmother.

Four other family members have been diagnosed with cancer in Evans’ family, as well. Evans said she kept this in mind while she danced hour after hour.

At midnight, Evans and her friends were head banging to one of the rock bands playing for the event. At 2 a.m., Evans was still on her feet, but she had no concept of time because participants were encouraged to leave their watches behind.

Throughout the morning, Evans played human checkers, made cards for cancer patients and played a version of “Survivor” against the other teams. Evans and her team won second place and a chance to lie down. Evans, however, opted to save time to relax for later and kept dancing.

During the marathon, some of her dance partners included the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Richard Nixon.

In the afternoon, Evans searched the Union Ballroom for Easter eggs full of prizes. While most contained pieces of candy, an egg that she opened came with a coupon valid for a 20-minute nap. Evans took the opportunity and slept.

For the next couple of hours, Evans kept dancing, playing games and listening to the various speakers who spoke of their own experiences with cancer.

“I was really grumpy at that point,” she said. “But, at the same time, I knew that I was doing something very rewarding.”

Finally, at 10:30 p.m., officials from the Associated Students of the University of Utah came to wrap up the marathon.

Although most of the 60 to 70 dancers who signed up for the marathon had dwindled, Evans remained on her feet, waiting to hear the final tally of the money they had raised for the cancer institute.

ASUU members held up an oversized check for $93,000. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” lyrics blasted once again from the speakers. At exactly 10:42 p.m., the marathon was over.

Advised not to drive drowsy, Evans had one of her friends pick her up to celebrate at McDonald’s.

Evans then went home, briefly talked to her family and went to sleep for a long time.

Lennie Mahler

Kathy Jents and Tiffany Evans dance as part of the “Hoodies” team in the 26.2-hour Rock The U dance marathon March 15 and 16 in the Union Ballroom. Evans, a freshman at Boston University, returned to Salt Lake City for Spring Break to dance in the marathon with a group of her friends.