We will rise at 4:00am in a city that will still be asleep. We will wipe our eyes, stretch that early-morning stretch, and remember the reason we are here. Three simple words: For The Kids. Upon that remembrance, 4:00am will not seem that early and the city of Chicago will burst into life. On October 8th 2017, we will arrive to the start line in Chicago and see 26.2 miles laid out before us. We will be enveloped in a sea of lime green representing Dance Marathon at each mile marker. We will be nervous, but we will be ready. This summer, 17 Chi Omegas have been training each and every day for the Chicago Marathon, all For The Kids. We use each other as a support system and strive to be our best for the kiddos in the Stead Family Children's Hospital. After countless months of training, these Chi Omegas are nearly ready for the big race in just under a month (and counting). Each Chi Omega comes with their own reasons for training-read them all below!

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26.2 miles. Yep, that's a lot. Yeah, it will hurt. But there are children and families up on the 11th floor of the Stead Family Children's Hospital in more mental, emotional, and physical pain than any of us could even imagine. Some of these children don't even know what life is like beyond the hospital walls. So, compared to these incredible kiddos who continue to fight with all the strength they can muster from their tiny little bodies, 26.2 miles is nothing. 

-Gillian Fiandaca, Class of 2019

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Last year when I signed up for the marathon, it was such an honor to be one of the 200 people to be wearing my lime through downtown Chicago on that long, long run. This year, when given the opportunity to Run Chicago again, I did not hesitate to sign up. Running can be really, really hard. But, it never fails to amaze me how something so challenging becomes so rewarding. It is even easier when the motivation comes straight from the kiddos and straight from the "lime army" that is Dance Marathon. It is said time and time again, but those kiddos go through the unimaginable, and they do it all with a smile on their face. Now, running a marathon is nothing compared to battling cancer, but if that is what it takes to provide more smiles and more birthdays, I think we should all run a marathon (or five). - Darby Drenzek, Class of 2019

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I’m training to run 26.2 miles for the kids because I’ve always known I wanted to run a marathon and I couldn’t think of a better opportunity than to do it for the best kiddos I know!
— Kayla Corrothers, Class of 2019

"I am running the marathon because I would never want to miss a chance to show my support for the kiddos currently battling pediatric cancer. I am running because they deserve to be showered with as much love and hope as possible. I am running because those 26.2 miles don't nearly compare to the pain they suffer through every single day. I am running to make a difference. I am running For the Kids." 💚 Anne Korff, Class of 2019

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I am training to run 26.2 miles FTK because those kiddos inspire and motivate me to push my comfort zones beyond what I could ever imagine. Every morning when I look at how many miles I have to run for the day, I stop myself from groaning because I remember I CHOSE to run this marathon. Those kiddos did NOT choose to fight cancer. The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up.
— Morgan Ross, Class of 2020
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After participating in Dance Marathon last year for the first time and loving it, I decided to train to run 26.2 miles FTK! I made this decision because I knew that by facing this challenge, I could raise even more money for the kiddos in order to better their lives and show them how far a little bit of strength and bravery can go. Not only have I felt more connected to Dance Marathon through my running, I have been inspired to go even further than I ever thought I would for these kids. Ultimately, running is easy, cancer is hard. 
-Megan Theis, Class of 2020

I chose to train for the Chicago Marathon through DM because of many reasons. The most prominent reason was to raise more money for the kiddos and their families who need it the most. My biggest motivation to keep training is the fact that each mile we run represents a kiddo who is going through the unimaginable. I can’t wait until I raise enough money to run the Chicago Marathon in October and attend the Big Event in February!

-MacKenzie Watterson, Class of 2020

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Running is my passion. If I go a day without it, I feel like something is missing. I am training to run 26.2 miles FTK because I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be able to do what I love everyday. These kiddos and their families are missing something every single day: a normal life. By using my passion to help others, I have a purpose. I fight through each and every mile because these kiddos fight through each hour in the hospital. They don't give up, so neither will I. Every mile that I conquer is a step in the right direction for the Dance Marathon kiddos and I will continue to pound the pavement until my lungs burn and my legs go numb in October. Every single mile will be worth my while. - Alexandria Seavey, Class of 2018

Last year I watched all of my best friends cross the finish line in Chicago and made a promise to myself that I would run 26.6 FTK the next October. Now the time has come and a lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed while training, but I know that if kiddos can fight cancer, I can run. They are the most motivating and inspiring humans and I am beyond blessed to be given the opportunity to run Chicago for them.
— Ellie Begg, Class of 2019
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"I am not a runner, but I decided to run the Chicago Marathon because of the amazing families and kiddos that I have met through Dance Marathon. At DM23, every single family that I had the opportunity to hear spoke about what a positive and important role Dance Marathon has had on their family. These kids have gone through the unthinkable - all with a smile on their face. If they can fight, I can run." Alicia Orr, Class of 2019

 

This year, I am fortunate enough to be an Morale Captain Assistant as well as a charity runner for the Chicago Marathon! Because the natural progression from junior high track is clearly to run a full marathon 5 years later, right? But on a serious note, the real reason I'm running 26.2 miles in October has nothing to do with me. It's all about providing hope. Each and every one of these children has had a unique journey, filled with highs and lows, good days and bad. It is my hope that these amazing kiddos keep fighting and eventually tackle their own "marathon," one step and one mile at a time. - Michelea Goodley, Class of 2020

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A few short years ago, I joined Dance Marathon, not knowing the impact it would have on my life. Now, as a Morale Captain, I’m running the Chicago Marathon FTK. I’m running For The Kids who are currently battling, who have battled, and who have lost their battle with cancer. I’m running for more firsts: first birthdays, first days of school, first kisses. If these kiddos can battle cancer, I can run 26.2 miles!


-Nicole Anderson, Class of 2019

I am training for the Chicago Marathon because it’s for an amazing cause and its always been on my bucket list. It makes it easy to train when you are training to run for the kiddos and when you have a bunch of your sisters to train with! I am beyond excited for this incredible experience and to be apart of such a great organization!
— Brookanne Pfaffle, Class of 2018
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Last year, I remember seeing a video DM made with 26 different kiddos asking Dance Marathon to run a mile for them; and all my doubts about running the marathon vanished. If these amazing kiddos could battle cancer, I knew I could run 26.2 miles in their honor!
— Kaitlyn Reth, Class of 2020
This year, I’m training for my 3rd Chicago Marathon FTK. Throughout these years of running long and hard, sore joints and tired muscles, I have found that I run because if the kids I’ve gotten to know and love can fight for their life, then I can fight for 26.2 miles. This year, I have the honor as serving as the Executive Hospital Director for Dance Marathon. This position has also given me a special opportunity to choose 26 Dance Marathon kids to each represent one mile. Hearing 26 stories of children who have had their lives turned inside out by cancer and having the opportunity to tell their story to hundreds of runners has been unlike anything else. I am so thankful for what each of the kids has taught me. Their stories and struggles are why I run. All FTK.
— Riley Coyle, Class of 2018
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