Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UNI Dance Marathon

 February 25, 2012
12 noon - 12 midnight

UNI, the University of Northern Iowa, held its first ever Dance Marathon in Cedar Falls, Iowa and we were lucky enough to be able to attend.  Before Ollie had passed away we were asked to speak at the big event.  Little did we know that we would be burying Oliver that Monday with the big event held the following Saturday.  The morning of the event... I had a breakdown.  I couldn't shake it and so Ed took the kids and was accompanied by my mom and brothers on the stage while he spoke about Oliver and his journey and how the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Dance Marathon played their part.

The funds from Dance Marathon go toward offsetting expenses that come with having a child in the hospital -- gas cards, restaurant cards, etc.  They also plan several fun family activities throughout the year to get the families together to support one another and forge friendships.  They also provide activities and such for the children that are in patient in the hospital and lots of the dancers also volunteer their time to go up to the hospital and visit and play with the children.  One of the biggest helps that we've received from the donations was money to help with Oliver's funeral costs.  It helped us to be able to get a nice headstone and buy the burial plot for him at the cemetery.  It also helped with some costs from the funeral home, which they actually waived most of it because Oliver was a child... a HUGE blessing to us as we didn't have much life insurance for him.  Anyways... I'm sure there are more ways that the donations help out families in need.  It certainly can be a financial strain when you have a sickly child that is in need of lots of medical attention.  

Dance Marathon, also called the Big Event, is a chance for families to get together and just forget about their problems if only for a night.  It is a time of celebration for some and quiet reflection for others.  It is a time to spend together with family and make new friendships with people that may share a bit of what you have endured.  It is something we look forward to each year.  Oliver was disappointed that we couldn't make it down to the University of Iowa's DM that was earlier in the month, but he just couldn't travel any longer and actually passed 11 days following the marathon.

Anyways... I finally calmed down and pulled myself together and went to the DM.  We all were proudly wearing our green 'Team Ollie' shirts and he was on our minds all evening long.  We had the chance to meet several people and so I was happy I went.  I know Oliver would have been happy to know that we were all there.  He would have been in the game room the entire time... I'm sure of it!

Brady's family.  Woody and Kim helped us a lot on our journey with Oliver.
Quinn Boylston's family from Ames, Iowa.  We found out that our sons both had DIPG.  We got the chance to talk with them for a long time.  You really connect with people that totally 'get' what this disease can do.  Very nice people.
Eden hanging out in the game room
Every hour the dancers had a different theme.  This one was none other than... HARRY POTTER!  Ollie would have LOVED it!
Someone from Hufflepuff and it looks like Luna Lovegood on the left hand side!
Donations for "Locks of Love"
Phineas and Ed
Waterloo West High held a Mini Dance Marathon in honor of Oliver and raised $3,830.99!!!

"Memory Table" for those loved ones that have passed.

Jaren in the game room
Ed and Phineas

 We put the DANCE in DANCE MARATHON!!!
Me and Eden

"Power Hour" is the last hour of dancing where everyone comes together and dances to upbeat, high energy music.
With Kara, a friend from church, we happened to see there!

Chelsea, Eden and Emily -- These gals helped out with Oliver's mini dance marathon held at the Phelps Youth Pavilion!
Eden dancing on the stage!

 The big reveal of how much they raised.  I think they were shooting for something like $14,000 and...

 They BLEW IT OUT OF THE WATER!!!  Not too shabby for their first year!!!

It was a bittersweet night as we knew it was an event that Oliver LOVED going to and looked forward to it all year long.  I wanted to go to keep his memory alive and to continue to make memories with the family.  He is with us although I don't feel him, I know he's there.  We will continue to go to Dance Marathon for as long as they'll have us!  :O)  Thank you to the volunteers and donors who make this all possible!  Thank you for your hard work, positive attitudes and love...

 Eden dancing the night away!
Someone had gotten their car ready for the Big Event as well!


1 comment:

meghan said...

That note from Eden was so sweet. I got a little misty. What a sweet sister <3