The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Children remembered in Dancing in Our Hearts room

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Shiva
Dance Marathon participants Elizabeth Struyk and Elizabeth Fuller read a board in the “Dancing in Our Hearts” room during Dance Marathon 24 at the Iowa Memorial Union on Fri Feb 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

A special room at Dance Marathon’s Big Event remembers those who have passed away from cancer, and the room also spreads their stories.

In the Dancing in Our Hearts room, event participants look at boards showing smiling faces and read personal stories of children whose fight with cancer has ended. Fairy lights cast a soft glow in the room, adding a comforting layer to the somber atmosphere.

Dancers are quiet as they soak in the lives of the children who left the world too soon. The line stretches down the hall and back — everyone waiting to see the room and to remember why they dance.

“The Dancing In Our Hearts room is truly the most touching part, I think, of the Big Event, because it’s the time when our dancers get to go in, and they get to reflect on why we dance and really connect with the mission of Dance Marathon …” Morale Captain Erika Harvey said. “We’re standing for these kiddos that didn’t necessarily win their fight with cancer.”

The room also features a tree hanging with kids’ names and small stories, so the families who didn’t have the opportunity to make a board can still have their child remembered.

“It was kind of emotional, just seeing all the little kids who have gone through so much that they shouldn’t have to at that age,” junior Griffin Rosenboom said. “It kind of humbles you.”

Stories ranged from one page to whole packets. They could be happy or sad, but each one lets the dancers know who the child was and helps them remember to never stop fighting.

Harvey said the stories really affected her and strengthens her resolve to do her part so no parent has to hear that their child has cancer.

“Sometimes, they’re fun stories that make you smile and remember that these are kids,” she said. “That’s sometimes the saddest part.”

Freshman Madisyn Serr said seeing the room was a very emotional experience, but it helps her remember that even though they passed away so young, these kids are free of the pain of their cancer.

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About the Contributor
Brooklyn Draisey
Brooklyn Draisey, Projects Editor


Email: [email protected] Brooklyn Draisey is the Projects Editor at The Daily Iowan. She is a senior studying journalism and entrepreneurial management. She has worked as a news reporter, news editor, and managing editor during her time at the DI. She enjoys writing long-form, in-depth features.