How Dance Marathon Is Changing College Students

How Dance Marathon Is Changing College Students

Dance Marathon is growing every day and showing college students what it means to be loving, selfless and ambitious.

As it's been just over two weeks since I participated in Loras College's 11th Dance Marathon event, I can't help but look back and reflect on all I've seen this organization do for myself, different communities and the country as a whole just within the past two years. I'm only an incoming junior, but I'm anxious to see what Dance Marathon can do in my last two years, also!

For those of you who are unaware, Miracle Network Dance Marathon (MNDM) is a national organization that benefits the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which are found all around the United States. MNDM is a non-profit that has organizations set up on college campuses. There are over 350 Dance Marathon programs and 200,000 college students that participate nationwide. Each of these organizations on different campuses spend all year fundraising for their event. Participants raise money by planning and hosting fundraisers, going into their communities seeking corporations to become sponsors and doing individual fundraising. At the end of each campus' fundraising year, they have a 12 to 40 hour event where they pledge to stand for the entire duration of the event in celebration of their fundraising efforts. All of the money raised by a school's organization goes to their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. All of this money benefits the kiddos that stay at these hospitals in various ways: medical equipment, games and so much more.

Dance Marathon is For The Kids. Everything we do is FTK. But, what often goes unnoticed are the effects Dance Marathon has on us as college students. The world is so much bigger than just ourselves, and this organization is showing students that. The Dance Marathon organization has changed my life and how I see the world, so I wanted to share how. In the past two years, Dance Marathon has:

1. Helped me appreciate my bad days more.

I've heard so many stories from our miracle families about what they go through while in the hospital. Through those stories, I realized that even on my bad days, I still have a lot to be thankful for. Even when I have a bad day, I get to go to bed, sleep it off and wake up with a new attitude. But, these kiddos that we work with can't just sleep off their illnesses. They wake up every day, still partaking in their battle. This is constant reminder to me and it keeps me pushing and striving through my bad days.

2. Introduced me to new friends who I'll have forever.

I've met some of my best friends through Dance Marathon. When working with people throughout the entire year, you get to know them pretty well. Through late nights and long meetings, I've become close with some amazing, inspiring and creative people that I hope to remain friends with for the rest of my life. They make me want to be a better person, and that's something that everyone should seek for within friendship. Luckily for me, I found it through Dance Marathon.

3. Helped me appreciate other organizations more.

While at a fundraiser, someone said to me, "I'm glad you guys do this in your free time. I mean, someone has to do it, and I'm glad you do." In reality, someone needs to fight every bad thing in the world: mental illness, racism, etc. But, we can't expect every person to fight. Individuals have passions in certain areas, and mine happens to be within childhood illness. Others have passions elsewhere, and I respect that. To me, it doesn't really matter who's fighting for what, as long as we're all fighting for a better tomorrow. I've experienced the amount of work that goes into volunteering for a Dance Marathon event, and I have so much respect for anyone who puts their effort into something they're passionate about, too! I appreciate other organizations for what they do more than I ever have.

4. Shown me how a true community works together.

Each organization on each campus supports miracle families from around that area. We have around 40 families registered with LCDM, and they're all so incredible. With them, we create our college's Dance Marathon community. The thing about a community, though, is that everyone supports each other: the support is mutual. We support our families through the work that we do throughout the year, and they reach out to us in our times of need. Through everything they go through, they still take time to show us that they're here for us. This year at Loras, there was a fire in one of our residence halls. Our families, who have their children to take care of while also living their day-to-day lives, contacted the affected students to make sure they had somewhere to live and everything they needed. How incredible is that? Yes, we are there for them, but they're also here for us.

5. Shown me that I do have the power to change the world.

As college students, we have a freedom that we lack at home. Outside of classes, we have a lot of free time. A lot of students choose to get a job, watch Netflix, work out or various other things. Now I'm not saying those things are bad or unworthy of our time, because I make time for those things, too! But no one's forcing me to be involved with Dance Marathon in the free time I have. I choose to. I choose to spend my time fighting for kids who shouldn't fight alone. A lot of times when you're young, you hear the phrase, "You can change the world!" That's true, but sometimes its hard to believe that we can do that on our own. But when we take all of those college students that are using the minimal time they have to fight for those kids and put all of those efforts together, we see change in the world. In 2015 alone, MNDM altogether raised over $26,834,682. That number speaks volumes, and I'm honored to have been a part of it.

6. Given me the opportunity to fight for true miracles and heroes.

This is one of our miracle kiddos, Christopher, and this year he is the University of Iowa Children's Hospital Iowa Champion, because he is a true champion! His family shared their story at our event, and told us that he wasn't supposed to supposed to live for more than an hour. He is a true miracle. Today, he's 11 years old, and I'm honored that I have the opportunity to fight for him.

Cover Image Credit: Austin Lowry-Luther

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

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3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

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30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?


With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.

We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

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