This summer, I have served as a summer camp counselor at an All-Sports Camp in Dubuque, Iowa, and have had the honor to share my “Why” for Dance Marathon with my campers. One of the main values of the camp I am spending my time at this summer is enthusiasm, encouraging campers to be joyful in all things. Every week I talk with my campers about enthusiasm, why it is important, and how I chose to be joyful in everything I do. I always started the enthusiasm discussion with the question, “Who has heard about the Iowa Wave?” Some campers’ hands will shoot up in the air while others are unsure of the tradition. It’s heartwarming to see how many kids from around the country know about the moment where we all turn around to show Stead patients love and support from Kinnick Stadium. I explain that as a University of Iowa student and member of Dance Marathon, I have a connection with the pediatric cancer patients on the 11th floor of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City and tell campers all about what DM does for the kiddos.
When I think about enthusiasm, I am reminded of my camp’s symbol for it, a sun, because the sun is always shining no matter what. I shared with my campers that as a member of University of Iowa Dance Marathon I have to be the light in a child’s life and bring the joy that they might have a hard time finding due to their battle with cancer. However, by raising a single dollar, attending a DM event, volunteering at the hospital, attending a community day, and raising awareness for pediatric cancer we can be a light in a kiddo’s life. Pediatric cancer can be described using every negative word I can think of and it breaks my heart to see what our kids have to go through, but I know that I can take a little bit of the pain away just by giving my full efforts to Dance Marathon and reminding the kids that they are so strong and brave. I have emphasized to my campers that our patients need every ounce of love and support from us, and by being enthusiastic we can make a child feel a little less pain and more love. I wanted my campers to leave camp with one message that I live by: “Be the ray of sunshine. Be joyful in all things. Not just some things, not just when you feel like it… all things.” I will continue striving to be enthusiastic and a ray of sunshine for the kids because they have changed my life, and I will forever cherish my time in Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa.
By: Ellie Piech, Public Relations Committee DM 29