Emotions run high, as Dancing in Our Hearts kids are remembered

Dancers+observe+visuals+of+former+Dance+Marathon+kids+who+have+passed+away+during+the+ninth+hour+of+the+23rd+Dance+Marathon+at+the+Iowa+Memorial+Union+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2017.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FMargaret+Kispert%29

Dancers observe visuals of former Dance Marathon kids who have passed away during the ninth hour of the 23rd Dance Marathon at the Iowa Memorial Union on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

As dancers and families walk into the Dancing in Our Hearts room on the third floor of the IMU, they are met with a somber mood as they make rounds looking at photos and reading the stories of kids who have died.

The Dancing in Our Hearts room is a place for dancers and their families to remember those who are no longer with them, yet are always a part of the Dance Marathon family.

“It was a pretty sobering experience. This is my first Dance Marathon and I never really realized how big of an impact it had on these kids’ lives until seeing this room,” Dancer Alex Pins said. “It is a sad experience but it makes you realize the importance of this organization.”

The room serves as motivation for many dancers who walk through its displays.

“It’s so hard to think about the gap that is left in their lives after they lose somebody like that but it is an honor for me to be able to dance in honor of these families who have lost so much,” Dancer Kari Karnes said. “I am blessed and lucky to be here.”

Among the boards full of photos, stories, and mementos representing the Dancing in Our Hearts kids, sits a tree full of wishes and prayers.

“It’s heartbreaking but also amazing to walk through there. The first thing I saw when I walked in was the wishing tree, which is a place for you to write a wish or prayer for the families,” said Dancer Alexandra Martinez. “It was so moving to read other people’s thoughts and prayers that they were writing for the families.”

For many of the dancers, one of the best things about Dance Marathon is remembering those no longer with the organization.

“[The kids who have passed away] were a part of someone’s lives at some point and I think that they should be honored for as long as this organization goes on,” Pins said.

The Dancing in Our Hearts room provides dancers with a different perspective on some of the families who help make up the Dance Marathon organization.

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