Monday, December 1, 2014

Comments for a Cause - Dance Marathon

It is December 1st which means it is time to talk about Comments for a Cause!  First thing to cover is my donation to the #NorthIowaBloggers Food Drive for the month of November.  Thank you for the 26 comments posted during the month, which results in a $13 donation.  I had a lot of fun with the #CanHunger Challenge earlier this month and look forward to delivering our food and monetary donations this Friday with my fellow #NorthIowaBloggers.  Thank you to everyone that is helping hungry families this holiday season.

In the month of December I am excited to be helping families with children with life threatening illness through the Dance Marathon fundraiser at Iowa State.  One of my readers, Courtney, reached out to me about this cause and I'm happy to help by donating $0.50 for every comment during the month towards Dance Marathon.

Let's hear more from Courtney on Dance Marathon:

This month’s Comments for a Cause truly shows the power of networking through 4-H. I first met Val when she was the President of my 4-H Club when I joined 4-H in fourth grade. Since then, I have continued to follow her blog on Facebook and Pinterest. That is when I first found out about her Comments for a Cause she does on her blog. I approached Val about doing Comments for a Cause for Dance Marathon, an organization near and dear to my heart since I started school at Iowa State, and she graciously agreed.

Dance Marathon is neither a dance nor a marathon; it is a celebration of life. (It’s also a fundraiser.) Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropy on Iowa State’s campus, helping children with life threatening illnesses for 18 years, giving financial and emotional support to hundreds of families across Iowa. All money raised through the event is given directly to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network. This year’s Dance Marathon at Iowa State is January 23rd and 24th.

I first got involved with Dance Marathon my freshman year in college, participating as a dancer. I fell in love with the organization and have been a member of the Families Committee for the last three years. As a member of the Families Committee, I get assigned a family and serve as their contact. I have been partnered with the Graber family since they first joined Dance Marathon three years ago. This is a picture of me with the Graber family at last year’s Dance Marathon.


The Grabers are a member of Dance Marathon because they have a Miracle Kiddo named Gabe. To be “eligible” for Dance Marathon, a family has to have received care from a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. In Iowa, that is the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Gabe is an energetic 4th grade boy who loves to read books, tell jokes, and cheer on the Cyclones. Before he was born, he was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. Gabe’s right ventricle never fully developed, so he only has 1 pumping chamber in his heart. This defect is corrected with a series of 3 open heart surgeries—one at birth, one at 6 months old & one between 2-5 years old. Gabe had surgery at 6 months old and 2 ½ years old. He recovered well except for a stroke paralyzing his left side. He has fully recovered from the stroke but has weekly physical and occupational therapy due to significant delay in his fine motor skills with his left hand and foot. He sees a cardiologist once a year.

Some services that Iowa State Dance Marathon has helped fund at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital include:
  • Library materials (If you ever are at the hospital, you will notice the library is painted teal, Iowa State Dance Marathon’s color, to honor our donation.)
  • Patient support “comfort kits”–parking and food vouchers for family members during extended stays
  • Music therapy equipment
  • Infant CPR training kits
  • Surgery teaching model
  • Diversion tools
  • Zaky positioning tool in NICU–a parental simulation tool to stimulate development in premature infants
  • Video laryngoscope for PICU
  • MRI vision distraction tools
  • Continual improvement in recreational therapy

Above is a map that shows the patients Dance Marathon programs across Iowa support.

Thanks to the generous support so far, Iowa State Dance Marathon has made a 1 MILLION DOLLAR pledge toward the brand new, state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital opening in 2016 in Iowa City. This picture below shows the hospital when I visited one year ago. Click here to see the progress that has been made!


At ISU, our big event happens in January.  At this event, our participants (dancers) stay on their feet for FIFTEEN hours to symbolize our support for the families who spend countless hours in hospital waiting rooms.  But it’s not a punishment for us; it’s a party.  We listen to music, play games, hang out with the kids we help, and even do a bit of dancing. Watch last year’s Thank You Video to get a better visual for what the big event is like!

Dance Marathon is for the kids, and at Iowa State, that’s always our focus.  We build up to our big day all year long by raising money for the kiddos at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  After a dancer raises $250, they get to come to the party in January.  In 2014, we raised over $427,000.00 together, for the kids.

As a member of the Families Committee, we host families at various events throughout the year. Some examples of events include a “Teal Gate” before an Iowa State football game as well as attending the football game, a Families Appreciation Dinner, the VEISHEA parade, and Make-A-Miracles.

Some Make-A-Miracles, similar to Make-A-Wish, I have help organize these past three years:

  • Matthew was the puck and stick boy at an Iowa State Hockey Game.
  • Gabe had a Captain Underpants party and Dav Pilkey sent him autographed copies of his Captain Underpants series!
  • Cy surprised Will for his 4th birthday party! 

If you would like to make a personal donation, feel free to donate here to help make miracles happen.  For more information about Iowa State’s Dance Marathon, check out their website.

Have you ever participated in Dance Marathon or have a Dance Marathon story you'd like to share?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

57 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for helping Iowa State Dance Marathon FOR THE KIDS! This organization has changed so many lives, from the Miracle Families who we support to the students who make the organization a reality. DM love!

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    1. No problem. I personally never participated in Dance Marathon when I was in college but am a huge supporter of Make-A-Wish. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. My favorite Dance Marathon memory was when one of our miracle kiddos, Blake, received a kidney transplant, so he couldn't be with us on the big event last year. His mom came on stage and they had Facetimed him in on his iPad. Major goosebumps that truly showed what Dance Marathon is all about!! Thanks for your support, Val!

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    1. Great story Courtney! I'm happy to help.

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  3. That's awesome! My daughter is a freshman at ISU and is raising money for this, as well. What a great cause!

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    1. That's great to hear Jenni! I bet she will have a very rewarding time by being involved.

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  4. This is great! I am a good friend of Courtney's and have enjoyed my experience with Dance Marathon the last 3 years and I am looking forward to "dancing" my last year in January!! Thank you so much for doing this.

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    1. No problem at all. That is great you've participated all four years of college.

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  5. This is such a great thing to fund this month (although every one of the causes you choose is). Looking forward to commenting away.

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  6. How wonderful:) We are blessed to know Courtney and to read this was really neat. We are thankful for all Iowa State Dance Marathon has done for our family and for all of the other families. So blessed.

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    1. Thank you for commenting and it is great to hear from the families that benefit from this program.

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  7. “We ardently support both our daughters’ Dance Marathon efforts as we are truly proud of how each has independently found joy, purpose, and vitality in serving a great cause. We believe their efforts & time, invested along with so many other similarly dedicated Iowa State Dance Marathoners, add so much to their Iowa State experience. It is inspiring for us parents to see our children strive and thrive in their commitment to helping the kids and their families! ”

    ~Choy & Connie Leow, Apple Valley, MN – Parents of Szuyin & Szumei Leow, Iowa State Dance Marathon, 2010-present

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I love hearing how much impact this has on the students involved.

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  8. We have a miracle kiddo named Blake who was born with kidney disease. Far and away, dM is the BEST part of Blake's situation. We love these college kids and the passion they show for such a great cause!

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    1. Thanks for commenting! It is great to hear that Blake loves his Dance Marathon experiences.

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  9. What a great way to support local efforts! Well done!

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  10. Thank you, Val, for supporting such a great cause with your December "Comments for a Cause". I had the chance to spend some time last year at ISU Dance Marathon and it was an awesome experience! The families and children shared stories with tears and joy about the difference Dance Marathon made in their lives.

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    1. That is great to hear. I feel like I really missed out by not participating when I was in college now!

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  11. dM is such an example of service to others, thank you for supporting such a worthy cause!

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  12. This is such a great way to get more people informed about dance marathon. Its a great cause and it warms my heart raising money and spending time with and for the kiddos! As always, For The Kids and DM love.

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    1. I know I have learned a lot about Dance Marathon and I hope it raises even more awareness with others.

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  13. Thank you for donating to Dance Marathon!!! As an ISU student involved in DM, I am so inspired to see others learn about Dance Marathon and donating to the cause. I believe that this organization does so much more than we as students can even imagine!! Thanks for everything that you're doing FOR THE KIDDOS!!!!

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    1. Thank you for commenting. It is great to hear about the impact Dance Marathon has had on your life.

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  14. Thank you for donating to our cause! We very much appreciate it :)

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  15. Your donation and Courtney's ongoing involvement with and support of ISU Dance Marathon truly make a difference for children and their families! Thank you!

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  16. Thank you so much for donating to such an amazing cause! what a great way to support!

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  17. Thank you for donating to Dance Marathon! FTK!

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  18. I am a fourth year participant in ISU DM and it has been my favorite part of my college experience by far. I have met so many of my best friends and connected with some amazing families. I am currently studying abroad in Italy and cannot wait to get home to some miracle kiddo hugs in January! Thank you for donating to an AMAZING cause! FTK!

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  19. Although you might think what you have done is a simple task, you are truly making a world of difference to families across the state of Iowa. My family has personally been touched through the efforts of Dance Marathon and as my fourth and final year as a participant comes to a close, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend my collegiate years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  20. This is awesome!! Thanks for donating! We have a miracle child, Reese, who was born with a spinal cord tumor. When she gets frustrated with treatments or being different, we list off God's blessings during this journey. First on her list, every time, is Dance Marathon. It's like family to us. We love DM!

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  21. Thank you for helping Iowa State Dance Marathon! Joining ISU DM was one of the best decisions I've made so far in college. We really appreciate you sharing and supporting our cause with your readers! FTK!

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  22. Thank you so much for donating to such a great cause! FTK!!

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  23. There aren't enough thank you's we could give you for donating to such a worthy cause! Let's help future generations, together! FTK!

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  24. FTK, all day, every day!

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  25. Thank you for joining our movement and helping us strive towards a million more miracles this year! FTK & dMlove

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  26. Always For the Kids! Thank you!

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  27. I can't begin to imagine what these families have had to endure. The mere thought that a child may not live life to its fullest, bring tears to my eyes. We are so lucky to know a few that are truly miracles!

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  28. Thank you for your donation to this great cause!!

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  29. You are an amazing human being! :) Keep being you! Thank you!

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  30. This is my second year participating with Iowa State Dance Marathon and it has been my favorite part of college so far. We can't say thank you enough for the support! FTK

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  31. Dance Marathon is a truly life changing event for all involved. Hearing families share their story and share what DM has done for them is amazing. I first participated as a dancer, and I'm now a member of the dancer relations committee. Being a part of that is special. Thank you so much for helping out! You're awesome.

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  32. Thank you so much for supporting this awesome organization! I have been part of Iowa State's Dance Marathon for 4 years now and have loved every minute of it. You are truly making a difference in the lives of so many kiddos. Thank you!

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  33. As an ISUDM alum it's incredible to see how far this organization has come since my days as a student committee member. Thank you for supporting these students in their efforts to create miracles in the lives of these kiddos and their families. Thank you for your financial support and helping to raise awareness. You are making a larger impact than you could ever know.

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  34. Thank you for your donation to this great cause! What a great organization!

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  35. Thanks for all you are doing to make a difference. Great job!

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  36. Thank you for supporting ISU dM, FTK!

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  37. That you for your support of dance marathon

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  38. Val, thank you so much for what you are doing through your "Comments for a cause" efforts! This is truly such a beautiful and creative way to give back as well as raise awareness for our precious Miracle Kiddos and for everything we, as Dance Marathon, strive to do as an organization. We are blessed to have your support and cannot THANK YOU enough!

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  39. Thank you for your support of dance marathon!

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  40. This is currently my third year being involved in Dance Marathon, and I consider it the single greatest thing I do all year! Thank you so much for donating to such an awesome cause!

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  41. ISU Dance Marathon thanks you for your support! FTK always!

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  42. Thank you for the support of Dance Marathon. As a dancer for the University of Iowa Dance Marathon it's great to see so much support all around the state of Iowa for Dance Marathon!

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    1. Does the University of Iowa have their dance marathon the same day at ISU? Do you work together on activities?

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