The One Who Started It All


This year, on Jagathon's 20th Anniversary, we sat down with Sarah Dargatz, the founder of IUPUI's Dance Marathon, to talk about her experience with Dance Marathon over the years. 

Sarah was considered a “Riley Grad” after receiving a kidney transplant at Riley Hospital for Children in April of 2001. She was so grateful for the care she received that she knew she had to give back to the hospital. Sarah’s firsthand experience as a patient at Riley greatly influenced her decision to encourage IUPUI to unite as one campus giving back to a local cause that impacts so many. Sarah, in her year as President of the IUPUI Student Foundation, planned and executed the first Dance Marathon held at IUPUI in February of 2002. The event raised over $2,000. Sarah paved the way for the first Dance Marathon at IUPUI, which later became Jagathon. Sarah overcame not only health challenges, but also the difficulties of starting an organization that is now an IUPUI Tradition and signature event. Jagathon has made and continues to make an impact in the lives of children being treated at Riley Hospital for Children.

Sarah's Jagathon Story

When Sarah was a Jaguar herself, she was involved in the Student Foundation, Student Government, Delta Gamma Sorority, and studied Anthropology. But even through all of these activities, Sarah wanted to do more and establish a big event at IUPUI that would stick. First trying out different events such as ultimiate frisbee, she knew they needed something more impactful for the then primarily commuter school. Inspired by her time at Riley and success of other collegiate programs, she decided that IUPUI should hold a Dance Marathon.

Sarah recalls the first year of IUPUI's Dance Marathon and compares it to her recent experiences attending Jagathon.

Watching the event grow over time, Sarah is proud to see how dedicated everyone is and how much people care. Sarah said, "Every time I go I am just amazed. It is stunning to me that it was able to happen". Sarah also mentions she is so proud to see the engagement of keeping everyone engaged through the Morale dance, Run to Riley, and all the other events that go on during Jagathon's capstone marathon. Sarah describes the feeling of the final fundraising total reveal as an "electric feeling that goes through the entire room" and how special of a feeling it is to experience. "It is so inspiring to see how far Jagathon has come and what a difference it has made on the campus and at Riley Hospital for Children. It is everythinhg I could have dreamed of for it". 

Inspiring Future Generations

In 2018, an award as named after Sarah. This award was called the Sarah Dargatz Overcoming Adversity Award for two years, before it was renamed to be called the Sarah Dargatz Inspiration Award in 2020. All registered participants, committee members, and Executive Board members for Jagathon are eligible for the award. One award will be presented each year to the selected recipient who inspires others, whether that would be through a personal challenge or the work they do to create something new to advance Jagathon’s mission during the year. The recipient of this award will demonstrate finding hope in the midst of adversity, and will persevere with tenacity, courage, optimism, and purpose. This person will display positive outcomes from inspiring others.

The past recipients of this award were asked to what receiving this award meant to them. 

Suketu Patel 2020

“Being a part of dance marathon from 2014 in high school all the way through college was absolutely amazing and in the last year, receiving the Sarah Dargatz Inspiration award was a true honor for me.” 


Know someone who you think embodies the Sarah Dargatz Inspiration Award and want to nominate them? Fill out the form here

 Award Nomination Form