Dance Marathon is the largest student organization at the University of Iowa. Every year this organization graciously raises funds FTK (For The Kids) fighting pediatric cancer in the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, celebrates those winning their battle against pediatric cancer, and remembers the kids who are now dancing in our hearts. Dance Marathon has now been striving to fight pediatric cancer for 27 years, and in the process, students have raised and collected over $30 million in donations. Needless to say, this organization fights strongly.
Throughout the typical, non-pandemic year, students interact with the patients at the hospital in a variety of ways. Mostly by checking in with them, playing games, and of course dancing. A variety of events are held throughout the year for these strong kids, but this year looked a little different.
Without being able to interact in person, a lot of virtual activities took place. By meeting up with families over Zoom, or by sending a virtual wave, dancers did everything they could this year to continue showing their love and support not only for the kids but for their families, too.
Instead of having the typical 24-hour event in person, a live stream appeared this year so everyone can celebrate virtually. We watched 9 kids graduate 5 years of cancer treatment, we listened to countless family’s fighting stories, we cheered on kids as they performed their talents in a talent show, and of course, we danced! A pandemic certainly did not stop this year’s celebration FTK, it only altered it. We rose with resilience to alter how we experienced the big event this year, but we have to remember sometimes the families we support can only attend virtually in a typical year due to their child’s health status.
This is what made the event so special. Even though we were not all in the same space, we all celebrated in the same way. We all fought for the kids. We all praised the families for their strength. We all remembered those that are dancing in our hearts.
When I joined Dance Marathon I chose to join miracle group two, because two was the number of my father’s favorite NASCAR driver. I lost my father to cancer, so the fight is important to me. Being apart of group two reminds me of why the battle is important and maybe even personal for every single person taking part in this student organization. Whether we joined because we knew someone personally affected by cancer, or simply want to stop anyone from having to fight this battle, we all are here for the same cause: to fight for a cure so no one, especially the kids, has to go through this battle.
Of course, I can’t talk about UIDM27 without telling you all how much our tote board revealed. This year, we raised $1,422,443.27 all FTK! In addition to raising funds, UIDM27 had their first official Move-A-Thon this year where over 4 million miles walked, ran, or cycled we made in name of the kids!
Even though my first year being apart of this organization was virtual, I wouldn’t take the experience back for the world. I got to meet so many wonderful people, find supporters from all over the country, talk to the strongest kids I have ever met, and of course, celebrate with them all of our hard work. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!
To learn more about Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa, click here. You can learn about individual families we support and their stories, individual dancers and their fundraising efforts, about the programs we sponsor FTK, and of course how you can make a difference!