Written by Michael Griffin, Business Development Manager at LaSalle Network.
This past Saturday, I attended the 7th annual Chicago Dance Marathon – an event put on to raise money for research, supplies, and staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Put another way, it’s an event put on to save the lives of children facing illnesses and diseases.
It’s my 4th Dance Marathon (with and without Lurie’s), and I’ve found each more rewarding than the last. LaSalle Network has sponsored Lurie’s Dance Marathon for the past few years, and after loving last year’s event, I joined the leadership team to get more involved. LaSallians have been on the leadership team before me, so I was excited to continue the tradition!
The concept is simple: spend a day (i.e. 8 hours, 13.1 hours, 26.2 hours, even 36 hours!) on your feet dancing and celebrating with kids who otherwise spend lots of their time in the hospital.
There’s a great energy as people begin to arrive: music is blasting, activity stations and games are set up in the ballroom, and breakfast is being served.
Throughout the day, patients and their families are introduced and the crowd gathers around the stage to listen to their stories. The event slows down, and you begin to truly understand who you’ve been raising money for and why you’re dancing.
On stage with their kids, smiling and blushing in front of a crowd of over 400, these families bare it all: heart-wrenching stories about hearing the news, sitting beside their kids as they went through painful medical procedures… it’s sad and it’s hard to listen to.
But then they remind you why you’re there. To raise money for an organization that’s stayed by them through every step of their difficult journey.
You feel proud to raise money for the staff and for the research conducted at Lurie’s. You cheer for the family and shake your head, wondering what it felt like to share that experience.
Then the kids inevitably yell, “Let’s party!” and the dancing continues.
As time passes and calories are burned, more activities such as Zumba, a Lurie’s Got Talent show, and raffle prizes take place. The next thing you know, it’s in the final hour: the Power Hour! The lights cut out, hundreds of glow sticks appear, the music’s turned up, and blacklights light up the ballroom for one last push.
After catching your breath from dancing, it’s time for the Final Reveal. The Chicago Dance Marathon has grown every year, and this year was no different: we raised over $370,000!
It’s an exhausting and emotional day, but I’m so proud. I’m proud of the event, and I’m proud that my company not only sponsors the event but also had 50+ participants, and helped raise over $45,000 for the cause. Dance Marathon is a day that Lurie’s kids look forward to every year, and a day that reminds participants how lucky we are.
I left this year’s Dance Marathon feeling like I could have done more. I’m already setting goals to start my fundraising earlier, to invite more friends and family, and to make next year’s event bigger and better.
I can’t wait for CDM ’17.