Saturday, January 7, 2023

As my time in Dance Marathon nears its end, I have recently reflected on these past four years in this organization and all the memories, friendships, and inspiration it has given me. In February, I will attend my last Big Event and I already know that saying goodbye to Dance Marathon will be incredibly bittersweet.

At these past couple of dancer meetings, my captains asked that I share my “Why” for Dance Marathon with new dancers as a member of Extended Leadership. I thought about how my “Why” has grown over my four years in the organization rather than finding it immediately during my freshman year. The truth is, when I enrolled as a dancer in this organization I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. I am forever grateful that I made the decision to stick with it all four years and now as a senior, I am so certain that my reasoning and passion for my membership in this organization have grown stronger than ever.

My freshman year, I joined because a friend in my sorority told me to. I was always wanting to get involved on campus, so I decided to follow her advice. I attended the Big Event with no idea what to expect, and little did I know that these 24 hours were going to inspire me way beyond what I had anticipated. I thought to myself how thankful I was to have discovered Dance Marathon, its members, and of course, the strongest kiddos and their families. There was no hesitation in continuing my experience in DM my sophomore year. Although fully virtual due to Covid, I discovered that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it. At this point, I had developed such a strong passion for the kids that I decided to apply for the Leadership team. When I found out that I had been offered a spot on the Sponsorship committee I felt so honored, excited, and ready to work. Thanking our sponsors all year and helping set up community days with the sponsorship chairs allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes of all the hard work that students put into DM all year. Finally, senior year I was offered the position of Marketing Chair and have had a blast posting on social media at DM events to show students at Iowa what we are all about. The Public Relations committee is so wonderful and our team is so passionate about what we do. I will forever be so proud of everyone I’ve worked with throughout not only the positions I’ve held but everyone I’ve worked with in DM these past four years!

This past home football game, I participated in my last Iowa Wave ever as a University of Iowa student and there is no doubt that I waved with tears in my eyes when I realized that was the final wave. Looking up at the children waving back, I thought of all the fundraising I did throughout these years and the pride I felt knowing how it went to the best cause. This organization and these kids have been an absolute blessing in my life and have inspired me to overcome my own struggles. To all the new dancers, members thinking about joining leadership, and everyone in DM: I highly encourage you to stay involved throughout your four years here. Joining and staying in Dance Marathon are decisions that I made I am forever thankful for and proud of. Thank you so much Dance Marathon for changing my life!

Written by: Ellie Piech