Dance Marathon Annual Report

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University of Iowa Dance Marathon 2010 Annual Report








    When you donate to University of Iowa Dance Marathon you are joining thousands of others by making a bold statement. You are showing support for the children and families fighting pediatric cancer. You are recognizing that pediatric cancer does not only impact the children but also their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and their loved ones. You help generate the resources that will provide emotional and financial support that are so vital to the mission of UI Dance Marathon. You are willing to help young children receive exceptional medical care. Finally, your support of University of Iowa Dance Marathon signifies your commitment to celebrating life and giving hope to children and their families.



    FOR you

    Dear Friends,

    The 2009-2010 academic year was a remarkable journey full of challenges and achievements for University of Iowa Dance Marathon. We are proud to share the stories of our families and students, as well as provide more insight into the financial support provided by the organization in this inaugural University of Iowa Dance Marathon Annual Report. This year marked Dance Marathons 16th annual 24-hour BIG Event, and the 16th year for students at The University of Iowa to provide emotional and financial support for children and their families being treated for pediatric cancer at University of Iowa Childrens Hospital. DM 16 was a year in which the students of UI Dance Marathon recommitted themselves to supporting the mission of the organization. It was a year that has been summed up by the simple slogan that has driven the organization since its inception, FTK! For the kids!

    It was decided last year that for the first time in its history UI Dance Marathon would not set a monetary goal. The goal for DM 16 would be instead to have 1,600 Dancers attend the annual BIG Event. The figure was based on the number of pediatric cancer treatments that occur annually at University of Iowa Childrens Hospital. The Leadership Team for UI Dance Marathon wanted to have one dancer for every time one of the kids received a cancer treatment.

    As UI Dance Marathon has grown over the years, the programs and projects we fund for the kids have grown. Over the past year, we have been proud that the seasonal family events have continued not only to improve, but also to introduce a new family event with a trip to Grand Harbor Water Park.

    We know that as we begin planning Dance Marathon 17 we have a great responsibility to continue the traditions of service and dedication that have been the hallmarks of the organization. We know that the year will provide challenges in the light of the countrys current economic conditions, but we face these challenges with confidence. Our confidence comes from the overwhelming support we have received from individuals such as yourselves, and from the knowledge that as long as the kids continue their fight so will we.

    Always For The Kids!

    Colette Forcier Mark Baccei 2010 Executive Director, UI Dance Marathon Assistant Director, Office of Student Life Advisor, UI Dance Marathon

    Message from Dance Marathon,s Executive Director and Advisor

  • FOR lifeSorry were late! Dana Smith yelled from across the street. She quickly grabbed ahold of her daughters hand and began to cross. Dressed in matching pink shirts with the words Just Dance! written across the front, the three girls followed in unison.

    The girls have been looking forward to this interview all day, Dana shared with a smile. The three girls were busy bouncing around the studio as the cameras and lights were being set up. The Smiths will be the featured family for this years annual DM Recruitment Video.

    From the outside, the Smiths looked like your average, happy American family. However, from the beginning of the interview it was quite apparent that they had been through much more than any average family.

    When we first found out about Raelynn having cancer, it was quite a shockNo one expects the word cancer, Brad Smith answered when asked about his daughters diagnosis.

    FYI: The Student - Family Representative

    UI Dance Marathon 2010 was proud to sponsor over 350 families throughout the year. Each family sponsored by Dance Marathon has the opportunity to have a student-family representative. The family reps contact their families throughout the year to provide support and to serve as a personal link to Dance Marathon. The program also assists with Dance Marathons recruitment and retention efforts by providing participants the chance to directly experience a familys story dealing with pediatric cancer.

    Raelynn Smith was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, soft tissue cancer, in June 2006 at age seven. The cancer was located behind her right eye. To fight off the cancer, Raelynn went through 24 weeks of chemotherapy. Once this treatment was over, she went through intense radiation therapy five days a week for five consecutive weeks.

    The weeks spent in the hospital as Raelynn fought for her life were both terrifying and exhausting, but there was hope to help them through. All during our hospital stays we met a ton of Dance Marathon students, Dana Smith recalled. They came to Raelynns room and picked her up and took her off to activities. A huge smile covered Raelynns tiny face as she remembered her experiences with Dance Marathon students.

    In addition to the support the Smith family experienced in the hospital, they were also able to attend Dance Marathons BIG EVENT in February 2009. Ill never forget talking on the way home from the event, Brad remembered with teary eyes. We were calling everyone to tell them about it.


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  • Raelynn and sisters, Kiara and Ella, were far from short of words when asked about their experience at Dance Marathon. They giggled as they spoke about dancing on stage with Dance Marathon students and playing with Herky.

    Throughout the interview, Brad and Dana spoke about the amazing relationships they have built through Dance Marathon. The way Dance Marathon joins families together who are going through similar experiences is incredible, Dana said. It gives us a chance to connect with someone who we can truly relate towe are always looking forward to the next family event or get together.

    Raelynn has been in remission since January 2008 and has been cancer-free ever since! The Smiths are now busy celebrating each cancer-free day and love being able to give hope to other families who are still battling cancer.

    Name: Raelynn SmithDiagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in June 2006 at age seven

    Went through 24 weeks of chemotherapy and intense radiationtherapy five days a week for five consecutive weeks

    In remission since January 2008 andhas been cancer-free ever since

    Now busy celebrating each cancer free day and loves being able to give hope to other families who are still battling cancer

    DM memory: dancing on stage with Dance Marathon students and playing with Herky



    In the summer of 2008 the state of Iowa and the cities of Cedar Rapids, Coralville, and Iowa City were hit by the worst flooding in state history. In the midst of the flood, the students of UI Dance Marathon demonstrated the resilience and dedication that have been hallmarks of the organization. While parts of The University of Iowa were closed, the students of Dance Marathon organized and carried out a family event in Dubuque, IA, at Grand Harbor Water Park. Just because there was a flood did not mean the families stopped battling cancer. They did not stop, so we couldnt either, remarked Brian Martin, the 2008 Family Relations Director. In spite of the flood, the students moved forward with the family event at Grand Harbor.

    The success from Grand Harbor has sparked the growth of the event. This year the students have already grown the event to Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo, Iowa. Multiple families contact us early in the year to get our event dates, so they can plan

    their summers around them, said Becky Coe, the 2009 Family Relations Director.

    The students of UI Dance Marathon organize seasonal family events that are meant to provide the children and families a break from their normal regiment of treatments and life with cancer. One of the major pieces of the Dance Marathon mission is to provide emotional support, and the students have found that the family events do just that. The family events are a great opportunity for the kids to simply be kids, said Martin. The events give the families a chance to forget about the hospital, cancer, and all the other things for a few hours.

    For more information about the families of UI Dance Marathon, visit

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    FYI: Forever Families

    Pediatric cancer is one of the most heroic battles a child or family can face. When that battle is won, it is no small accomplishment and a great reason to celebrate. Dance Marathon has the Forever Families program for families who have been cancer-free for five or more years. The families mark the transition into the Forever Families program through a graduation ceremony at the annual BIG Event. This year the ceremony was conducted by Dr. Michael Artman, Physician-in-Chief of University of Iowa Childrens Hospital, and many other hospital faculty and staff.


    We have heard many families say, especially those in treatment, they could not afford to do these regular family things.

    - Becky Coe, 2010 Family Relations Director UI Dance Marathon



    FOR studentsThink about a college student. What comes to mind? Do you see someone sitting in a hospital room? Perhaps someone writing letters to family and friends asking for donations to help people they have never met? What about someone who has been standing on their feet for 24-hours, passing up the opportunity to take a nap, have a pop, or simply sit down? Most likely you have answered, No, and most likely you have never met Manish Aggarwal or any one of the other 1,356 students who attended Dance Marathons 16th annual BIG Event.

    I was a junior, and a friend told me I had to do it before I left Iowa, reminisced Manish Aggarwal, now a medical student at The University of Iowa from Marion, Iowa. I attended the BIG Event not exactly sure what Dance Marathon was all about, and after the last family speaker I turned to my friend and told him that I needed to do more and be more a part of this organization. Up until that time Manish was by all accounts a great student, academically strong and involved around campus.

    Until I joined Dance Marathon I felt I was missing somethingI wanted to be a part of something positive, but was not able to find it with other activities or groups.

    Manishs senior year found him part of the Dance Marathon Hospital Committee, a group of students who volunteer at least 10 hours a week, 12 months a year on the pediatric hematology-oncology floor at University of Iowa Childrens Hospital. The Hospital Committee is one of several parts of the organization that have students working and interacting with the families. The students and families develop relationships that act like a blanket of hope for families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, commented Michelle Altmaier, Director of Childrens Miracle of Network. Dance Marathon students gain memories and experiences that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. Manish summed up his Dance Marathon experience when he said, Realistically, I never knew whether I would or even could make a difference in the lives of any of the patients or the lives of their families. However, I knew that I wanted to do something good. That is what the organization has always meant to me. DM is a large group of students each doing their own small amount of good. Making a difference is really just a result of that collective effort.





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    UI Dance Marathon creates amazing opportunities to foster relationships among students, families, and staff of University of Iowa Childrens Hospital. The relationships created allow for remarkable co-curricular educational experiences for Iowa students. Even more significant, is that through these students and their relationships, this organization has become a powerful agent of change that has left a lasting mark on countless lives and the entire UI Community.William Nelson, Ph.D.Director, Office of Student Life andChair, DM Allocations Committee

    The DM students see first-hand the consequences of childhood cancer. I believe that the students learn empathy and gain tremendous self-awareness as they help children and families. Students realize that there are far more important things in life and that many of their own worries pale in comparison to those that our patients face.

    Michael Artman, MD, Physician-in-Chief, University of Iowa Childrens Hospital

    Photo of Coleman Larson and Manish Aggarwal, DM Leadership Team member


    FOR hopeFOR THE KIDS!Oncology & Sibling Summer Camps ($50,000): Summer camp for children currently battling cancer and a separate camp for siblings.

    Courage Capes ($4,000): Flannel capes given to patients and siblings to serve as a blanket and/or fun cape.

    Nu-Du Program ($3,000): Service to help provide wigs, alternative head coverings, hair styling, and other related salon services for pediatric cancer patients.

    Sibling Support Group ($2,000): Support group that provides social, emotional, and developmental outlets for siblings of pediatric cancer patients.

    Coping Tools for Kids with Cancer ($1,250): Teaching tools and special chemo caps given to children undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

    Celebrating Life ($1,000): Funding to honor life events (birthdays, end of treatment, etc.) for hospitalized children.

    FAMILY SUPPORTDance Marathon Family Relations Budget ($86,934): Annual operating budget for programs overseen and carried out by student members of UI Dance Marathon Family Relations Committee, which include seasonal family events, Holiday gift cards, and many other programs.

    UI Dance Marathon Hospital Bill Program ($60,000): Each family receives up to $1,000 per calendar year to help cover out-of-...