The Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomed over 40,000 participants this past weekend, and 14 Chi Omegas were among them. Each runner represented Dance Marathon, a charity near and dear to all the hearts of all Chi Os. Each woman raised at least $750 for the kids in the Children’s Hospital at The University of Iowa and then ran 26.2 miles to further prove how much they care about those kiddos. Several Chi Omegas could be spotted wearing lime green and yelling “For the Kids!” from the sidelines to encourage their sisters to keep running. Some Chi Os even hopped in the race and ran a mile with the runners to lift their spirits. This support system during the race and during training was a big reason why the runners were able to accomplish their goal. Training lasted for five months, complete with early morning wake up calls and ninety degree days. It was not easy, but it was worth it. These women accomplished something that less than 1% of the population of the world has done, and we are proud to call them our Sisters.
Chi Omega Emily Fortman was the Dance Marathon the Marathon's Coaching Chair for over 200 runners from the University of Iowa. Even though she was unable to run due to a recent hip surgery, she was still a rockstar cheering on and helping her runners prior to and during the race.
"Being able to serve as the coach for 219 of the most INCREDIBLE and selfless humans I've come to know has been a total rollercoaster, but definitely the most fun one I've ever been on.
When patients are first diagnosed, the oncology team likes to remind the family that treatment isn't a sprint - it's a marathon. It's long, it's taxing, and it's not anything near instant gratification. you have to pace yourself to prevent burn out. You have to endure and trust the process, even when your mind tries to tell you to give up the fight - that is why we want to run for these kiddos. The main reason the DMM program has been so extraordinarily successful is that it gives students the chance to not only shatter their own expectations of themselves, but to get a taste of the type of thing the kiddos we support go through EVERY DAY - without a choice, without a shiny medal at the finish line.
When you realize how your body feels at mile 21, and look down at the names written on your arm, knowing that each name you read is a tiny lil human who feels like this right now, with no option but to endure, it makes you that much more inspired to keep going.
I was SO PROUD to see so many Chi Omegas cross the finish line in Chicago. DM is a huge common interest that many of us share, and there is no better way to come together with sisters for a great cause than helping them run 26 miles - either by running along side them or cheering them onto the finish line!
When typical college students come together to do an EXTRAORDINARY amount of fundraising for kiddos whom they have never even met, you know you're not fitting the "me me me" millennial stereotype. When you combine that fundraising with countless hours spent training for a marathon, you're DESTROYING that stereotype. in Dance Marathon, we like to describe ourselves as one generation that's fighting for the next, and it couldn't resonate more clearly through DMM. - Emily Fortman
“Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list, I just never thought it would be something I would accomplish in college! Dance Marathon gave me the courage and strength to run 26.2 miles all For The Kids. It was an experience of a lifetime and something I will remember forever. There is one quote that motivated me and pushed me to the finish even when I thought I could not go on and I would like to share it: ‘They ride tricycles down hospital hallways, not at the park; They know the names of their chemo, not their classmates; Nurses and doctors are their new family; Their laughter will make a heart melt; Their strength will make a grown person cry; If you’ve ever seen a kid fight cancer, it will change your life forever.’ Dance Marathon has changed my life forever and the people I have met and the events I have experienced I will hold close to my heart, the Marathon being one of them! Running is easy, Cancer is hard.” - Kathryn Lorenger
One year ago today at my first Dance Marathon meeting, I was inspired beyond belief. As soon as we walked into meeting, all of the Chicago Marathon runners were asked to stand. Looking around me, I was amazed that over 200 students had given up their time to do this. I immediately fell in love with the organization. I wanted to do as much as I could for the kids in the University of Iowa Hospital, and I promised myself I would run the Chicago Marathon. No one I told believed that I would follow through with it, but as I began to connect more with the kiddos I knew my purpose was to fight for them. The DM kiddos have changed my life, and I want to do everything I can to change theirs. So I ran 26.2 miles this weekend, and I did it all FTK. -Gillian Fiandaca
I came out of the marathon with a pretty badly sprained ankle, but that's nothing compared to what those kiddos go through every single day. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. FTK always - Tori Albertson
“Today I ran my second marathon. Am I a runner? I guess now I am, which is so strange to say. Something crazy happens in your mind when you believe and care so deeply for something that you would literary do anything in support. Getting the opportunity to love and stand with the families fighting pediatric cancer at the University of Iowa has changed me forever. Getting to know these kiddos and families lit a fire in me that has carried me through two marathons. Pretty wild how strong a love like that can be. We pushed through pain that I didn’t even know was possible because the minute I thought about what these kids endure everyday, makes ours seem pretty small. I am so humbled to have ran for my cousin Max, and incredible dance marathon rep kiddo, Vinny. I was taken back by the support from my amazing family and friends. Seeing so many smiling faces in the crowd cheering us on made the day one that I will always cherish and remember. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually truly enjoyed this run. Thank you to all my supporters! ” - Madi Smith
"Running all 26.2 miles FTK is one of my biggest accomplishments! I may be in pain for a few days , but i is nothing compared to what the kiddos battling cancer endure on a daily basis. The kids are the real heroes and inspiration in this world."
Those 26.2 miles were the most rewarding experience I have ever had. As painful of an event it was, I did not stop smiling throughout each step. I am so proud of my friends who ran alongside me and to all those supporters who came out, it was truly a life changing experience that I wish I could continue to relive. - Alex Griffin
Running the marathon was an experience I will never forget. the morning of, we all met up for breakfast and some pre-race hyping up - my father was able to come, and being a cross-country coach for 13 years, he knew a lot about running. As we sat back and looked around the room, he thought back to his cross country days - he told me about his cross country kids, when they started running a lot of miles they would get their "frog legs" or super muscly legs. looking around the room it was apparent, none of us running the marathon were in tip top "marathon shape" or had these "frog legs" the thing that was pulling us step after step, mile after mile, hour after hour was the kiddos, and their families, enduring the unimaginable. Running the marathon was not about running for me. It was about being surrounded by 200 other people who were just as passionate as me about Dance Marathon, and proving to ourselves that we can do anything we set our minds to, rather it be running a marathon or raising 2.7 million dollars FTK. - Darby Drenzek
Holy moly I actually just ran a marathon!! Although my legs have never been in this much pain, I couldn't be happier right now! Whenever I wanted to stop and walk, I would just remember the kiddos over at UIHC who I'm running for. Thank you Dance Marathon and DM families for giving me the courage and opportunities to do things I never thought possible. FTK EVERY DM DAY - Haylee Parker
Needless to say we are so proud of these women! Last year, over 80 Chi Omegas participated in Dance Marathon, breaking the sorority record by raising over $95,000. You can read all about that by clicking HERE.
If you'd like to help these marathon runners get to their fundraising goal for Dance Marathon, click their name below and it will take you to their donation page where you can find out more about why they are passionate about DM :)
Tori Albertson, Riley Coyle, Frankie Delleman, Darby Drenzek, Gillian Fiandaca, Emily Fortman, Kathryn Lorenger, Lauren Lynch, Haylee Parker, Jayde Price, Madi Smith, Alexandria Seavey, and Marlee Speak