Dance Marathon raises money for youth cancer victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dance Marathon raises money for youth cancer victims

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

It's a 19-year tradition. The annual Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa is an all-night and all-day event to raise money for kids with cancer.

"If you look around there's kids everywhere and their families and you know how much they're going through so it's just motivation for us," said Renee Denton, dancer.

Dancers must stay on their feet for 24 hours straight.

"I'm tired, but I think I'm overtired, " said Julia Staheli, dancer. "I think it makes me more energetic."

The dance is the Big Event, but the University of Iowa Dance Marathon provides year-round support to youth cancer victims and their families.

"One of our families who I met on the day their son was diagnosed, I got to know them throughout his treatment," said Nic Rusher, Executive Director. "Unfortunately ,he did lose his battle with leukemia but we still keep in touch with their family."

There's success stories, too, like Lauryn Kuehl, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was eight months old.

"When Lauryn was in the hospital, we were in and out for about two and years," said Renee Kuehl, Lauryn's mom. "Dance Marathon, the volunteers, our family sponsors, they were there for us. They were our family away from home."

The Kuehls have been helping with the Dance Marathon for nine years, even after Lauryn became healthy again.

"I like that they helped me so I want to help the kids by dancing, too," said Lauryn Kuehl, cancer survivor.

At the Big Event the kids who lose their battles are remembered and there's a graduation ceremony for those who have been cancer free for five years.

The dancers not only have to stay on their feet the entire day; they're also not allowed to have any caffeine for the entire 24 hour period. They say that's because the kids don't really get a choice---they have to suffer through chemotherapy and other treatment and this is just one small way to show how they care.

This year's event raised more than $1.5 million.

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