Hawks share stories of why they dance “For The Kids”


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ashle

Dancers spill out of the main lounge during Dance Marathon 24 at the Iowa Memorial Union on Fri Feb 2, 2018. Dance Marathon raises money for pediatric cancer research. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

As the dancers continue to advance into the night, several Hawkeyes talked with The Daily Iowan about exactly what brought them to Dance Marathon and what will keep them going through the night.

Jake Larkins was once the recipient of high-fives as he walked across the IMU stage at the Dance Marathon Big Event during the Family Entrance.

Now, as a senior in college, Larkins gave them out.

Larkins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in high school and participated as a “kiddo” in Dance Marathon one year before he went into remission. Once he enrolled at the University of Iowa, he raised money as a dancer, and this year, stepped outside his comfort zone to become a morale captain assistant.

“Now, I get to give back to what’s given so much to me,” Larkins said.

Freshman Elizabeth Storey said she’ll keep dancing because of a hometown tragedy. One boy who frequented her church, Oliver Palmer, lost his battle with cancer. His name is embroidered on the memorial quilt for kids who are “dancing in our hearts.”

“Watching what he and his family went through has inspired me to try to keep his memory alive,” Storey said.

Freshman Jocelyn Roof said her grandmother was a driving force in her life. A staunch advocate for cancer research, she inspired Roof to advocate as well. A few years ago, her grandmother passed away from cancer.

“Watching her go through that, going through that with my family and imagining how much worse it would be if it was a child who had their whole life ahead of them,” Roof said. “That’s what led me to [join Dance Marathon].”

Roof also said she appreciated how big an effect the University of Iowa can have. For one thing, the UI has the third-largest Dance Marathon in the nation. Last year, the program raised approximately $2.5 million. More than 2,900 students have signed up this year.

“The amount of money we raise is unfathomable,” Roof said.

For first year pharmacy student Colton Staudt, his passion for kids aligned Dance Marathon with his studies.

The second-time dancer hopes to specialize in pediatric pharmacy. His ultimate goal, however, is to help kids.

“The best way is to start small with Dance Marathon, where we raise money to cure pediatric cancer,” Staudt said.

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