Dance Marathon’s families tell their stories

Children+play+at+the+Cars+theme+room+in+the+second+floor+ballroom+during+dance+Marathon+24+on+Friday+Feb.+2%2C+2018.+Dance+Marathon+raises+money+for+pediatric+cancer+research.+%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Dance Marathon’s families tell their stories

Children play at the Cars theme room in the second floor ballroom during dance Marathon 24 on Friday Feb. 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Children play at the Cars theme room in the second floor ballroom during dance Marathon 24 on Friday Feb. 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie

Children play at the Cars theme room in the second floor ballroom during dance Marathon 24 on Friday Feb. 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie

Children play at the Cars theme room in the second floor ballroom during dance Marathon 24 on Friday Feb. 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

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For this year’s Dance Marathon, it’s not only the families who are provided an escape from the IMU’s hectic atmosphere. Dancers are also invited to enjoy a break from their boogying for carefree activities and a special opportunity for both dancers and families.

On the IMU third floor, dancers are invited to enjoy arts and crafts, miniature golf, and even a trendy escape room, all set up in the recently renovated meeting rooms.

But when they aren’t used for games, the rooms are for something more. Families who didn’t have the opportunity to speak on the big stage are invited to speak to groups of dancers in a more intimate, calm setting.

Anna Jablonski, working for Dance Marathon, had the opportunity to hear a family’s story and was touched by the value of such an opportunity.

“It’s pretty inspiring to hear from all of them and what they went through,” she said. “[For the dancers], it really kind of opens their eyes, I would say, to the reality of it all.”

Benjamin Linden, another Dance Marathon staffer, spoke highly about the small-scale family meetings.

“We want all of our families to be able to speak,” he said. “It’s one of the most important parts of Dance Marathon.”

The stories of the families are what fuels everything about Dance Marathon, Linden said, from raising funds to dancers to leadership. He compared the talks to the Dancing in our Hearts Room.

“It gives us a chance for families to share their experience,” Linden said. “And to make sure that the name of the kiddo lives on.”

UI junior Carly Iacullo, a first-time dancer, stepped out of her first meeting of the night and said it was an experience like she’ never had before, and she might do Dance Marathon next year because of it.

“It was a really uplifting story,” Iacullo said. “They were thanking us for our contributions and raising awareness and money, and we were also hosting a family reunion for all the families who go through cancer with all their kids.”

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