This weekend is the annual Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Shortly after our oldest daughter began treatment for hepatoblastoma, a rare childhood liver cancer, we attended our first Dance Marathon. The whole experience was overwhelming from time to time, but not in a bad way. Watching thousands of college kids take part in this event that is FTK (for the kids) and raise tons of money so that they are able to provide activities and extras that help make a child's hospital stay more comfortable and entertaining is amazing. Thinking back to my own college days at a small liberal arts college that didn't have anything like Dance Marathon, I don't know how much time I would have found to give to such a worthwhile cause. These students made our stay in the hospitals so much better- and even when our daughter didn't act like she wanted them around, they continued to come and visit her and spend time with her and made her feel special.
This is our fifth trip to Dance Marathon. Chris and I have mixed feelings about these annual trips. They bring up a lot of feelings that we wouldn't mind forgetting. But, it is always wonderful to see the people that were with us and helped us through some of the worst days of our life. And, it is good to be around other families who truly do understand what you have gone through.
As our girls do every year, they proclaimed that this year's Dance Marathon is the best one yet. Dance Marathon 2010 was Disney themed and the girls rushed around getting autographs from different Disney characters. They also enjoyed eating unlimited cotton candy (L had her first helping today at 8:30 AM), popcorn and slushies, jumping in the blow-up castle, and tatooing themselves everywhere. Flashes of Hope provided family photographs for all the families, the Best Buy room featured different games for kids to play, and meals and hotel rooms were provided.
While I didn't get a lot of reading done (only one measley chapter in Bridie Clark's book The Socialite that I am reading on my kindle), spending a weekend at Dance Marathon is always memorable and a reminder of what is really important.