Loras College 6th annual Dance Marathon hits close to home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Loras College 6th annual Dance Marathon hits close to home

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Friday marks the start of the 6th annual Loras College Dance Marathon. The event raises money for the Children's Miracle Network at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Last year the group broke a record, raising more than $100,000 in one night. This year, the event takes on a much more personal meaning.

It's been a busy week for dance marathon committee members.

"And people are really, they're using what we are providing to them," Dance Marathon chairperson Rachel Rolfes said.

The group was stuffing bags, folding T-shirts, making sure everything is ready for the 12 hour event.

"We're the only college under the enrollment of 2000 to raise over $100,000. Plus we raised the money per capita," Coordinator Kim Walsh said.

But last years record hasn't been the focus this year, Walsh found the impact of that money fall close to home.

"November 2010 my 4 year old niece was diagnosed with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma," Walsh said.

A 54 week treatment plan, meant Walsh would be visiting her niece Anna and her family in Iowa City at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, the same hospital Dance Marathon helped raise funds.

"Just the day to day, being down there and seeing the impact of the services that Children's Miracle Network provides," Walsh said.

Walsh says the money raised helped fund a vending machine, that Anna uses whenever she has an appetite, a magic room that allows Anna's siblings to visit and watch movies, as well as a play room for patients.

"Seeing it in action has really made a huge impact. In just knowing how much Anna benefits from it," Walsh said.

Students say this year they've found new meaning in their cause, thanks to a visit with Anna.

"Seeing those face and making those connections, shaking those hands, playing with those kids and know that, while they may not know that when I'm at college I'm raising money, you have the humble ability to see how it's all paying off," Rolfes said.

Paying off in a way that will make Saturday morning's fundraising reveal more meaningful for all.

"I can already feel it. It's going to be a very emotional time. One because of the students accomplishments. Two knowing my niece, knowing her situation and the long road she has ahead of her and the ways that we're helping her," Walsh said.

This year's marathon raised $129,402.50.

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