Things get started at 9 AM. It is a crazy, fun atmosphere. All the dancers come in with the music blaring and then the families are announced and go through a tunnel of dancers. The kids love giving high fives! This was the giant banner on the main stage this year. If you look at the bottom you will see Bowen. He's smiling at the gal in the glasses. How cool is that?!
This is a really emotional day for me. There's such happiness and inspiration, but tears too. We were waiting to be announced at the back of the room and the music was playing and I turned around and saw the dM angel candles. There is one candle for every single child that has passed away after being a miracle kid. I looked at those candles and thought, "We shouldn't even be here. Blake wasn't supposed to make it." The thought hit me like a ton of bricks.
At the beginning of the day, the dancers spend the morning learning what's called the morale dance. This is played every single hour on the hour. This year, Jenna stayed in with the college kids and learned it right along beside them. She did really good!
TEAL is THE color of ISU's dance marathon. In a very awesome announcement, the ISU dM is donating $1 million to the new University of Iowa Children's Hospital that is set to open in 2016. The money will go towards a new play room that will be teal in color as a shout out to ISU. Super cool!
The family with Kayla
Mr. Bowen is pretty proud of his brother. :)
Our good friend Emily Morgan is the one that originally asked us to be a dM family. We're so thankful she did. Her and Jenna danced it up during the morale dance.
Love these two.
They had costumes for the kids to dress-up in. Blake as a lion was beyond cute.
Jay with a very tired Bowen. We kept the boys up past their normal naptime so we could talk to our group. Jay is another one that goes in the category of he's not our family, but is like family and we are so thankful he's in our life because he would do anything for us. We are definitely blessed!
Craft time! The kids made jet packs to go with the outer space theme.
Brody totally took to Cassy. She was so incredibly patient with him and helped him with his jet pack and then helped Jenna make origami.
On the t-shirts this year it says, I stand for _______. Emily was writing Blake in Jenna's blank space. It was neat to read what the dancers had written on theirs throughout the day.
Miss Iowa was there and Jenna Jo was in heaven! She even got to try on her crown AND she autographed Jenna's shirt for her.
They had a wall with the kiddos' pictures and stories. This was Blake's.
This room is always super emotional for me. It says "Why We Stand." The students write the reasons that they choose to stand and be a part of this amazing event. The answers just hit me in the heart. These students are so selfless. Some of my favorites are at the bottom of this picture.
Emily and Blake.
It's kind of a funny thing dance marathon. You (your family) is supposed to be there to inspire the dancers. But actually, I find myself being inspired by them. And the other families. I have to share this story with you...
The mom that talked on stage before said that she had lost her daughter two times. At one point, in the hospital room she heard the doctor say, "Stop compressions." At that moment, the mom said she prayed to God that if he was going to take her little girl that he better make sure that she was strong enough to live without her. Seconds later, the little girl sat up on the table and smiled at her mom. Can you even imagine?! I just can't. I cried and got chills all at the same time.
I feel like it's such a good day for us to realize that we don't have things as bad as it may seem sometimes. Listening to other families, they humble me. They inspire me. There's always two sides to every coin. Yes, Blake's situation isn't ideal, but the positive part is we get to be a part of this amazing thing called dance marathon. We get to meet families and students we never would have met without it. THAT is a blessing.