Poyer: Let’s talk about Dance Marathon

The FTK (For the Kids) is on the front of the stage and is lit up throughout the big event, reminding us why we are there, standing and dancing. 

Sarah Poyer

“They look forward to Dance Marathon and ask about it more than Christmas.” It’s a sentiment that is repeated plenty of times from the mouths of miracle kids’ families. 

Had you asked me two years ago if I would have heard this statement and understood it, I probably would have shrugged it off and not given it another thought. I was hesitant to get involved with Dance Marathon in the first place, but one of my best friends Courtney encouraged me to. I am incredibly glad that I did. After my second Dance Marathon, I have collected some ideas to share with you all. This statement means so much to me and reminds me to live every day For the Kids (FTK). 

Dance Marathon is such a bittersweet event. From TealGate to miracle maker meetings to the big event, there is so much joy and yet so much sadness shared. For the sake of this piece not being a million words long, I am going to focus on the big day and fundraising, but the whole thing is so, so incredibly special. I really encourage you to get involved. 

The big event is a long day. An extremely long day — like 15 hours long. You are on your feet the whole time, standing, dancing, crying and feeling a bunch of other emotions. I won’t lie to you and tell you that the day is not exhausting, but I will say that the exhaustion is so worth it. Being exhausted for this one day is such a tiny sliver compared to the exhaustion and fatigue these families feel for years — and even decades — of their lives. 

Family stories are my favorite part of the big event. Although the family stories tug at my heartstrings and make my eyes water (and by that, I mean I am standing there bawling), they mean so much to me. Hearing just how much the kids look forward to seeing their “Iowa State Dance Marathon friends,” as their parents say, or how they look forward to this more than Christmas is just so heartwarming. These kids look forward to the big event so much. It is better than Christmas for them. I promise not all of the family stories end super sad either. We get to hear how the Stead Family Children’s Hospital gave some kids a chance to really live their life. The family stories show me why Dance Marathon is so essential and just what every dollar donated can do. 

Donations are probably the second-most crucial thing of Dance Marathon, the kids and their families being the first. The money raised for Stead Family Children’s Hospital does so much for the families. It helps make a challenging time in their life a bit easier.

I don’t think people understand just how much even a couple dollar donation can add up. If everyone who saw my Facebook posted on the day of the big event donated even $2, that would have added up so quickly. I know we college students are strapped for cash, but honestly, next year, when the big event comes around, see if you can spare some change for these kids who are fighting so bravely. 

These miracle kids are fighting so bravely for their lives. It has to be an exhausting process for both them and their families, yet they show up and they continue doing it. I am reminded of this at every Dance Marathon event we have throughout the year, but especially at the big event. These little reminders throughout the year keep me trying to live my life FTK. The miracle kids are fighting such brutal battles, yet they always give us smiles and cheerfulness. I want to be able to be FTK every day in reminder and honor of these hardships. 

The miracle families tell us how much we make an impact on them and their kids every story. They thank us for giving time up to be there and to cheer their kids up. But really, we should be thanking them. We should thank them for sharing their stories with us, for sharing their kids with us and for spending time with us. Dance Marathon has flipped my perspective on life. It is such a special event, and I know it will always live in my heart. Less than 40 weeks until the next big event, and I am already counting down the time. #FTK