18 Chi Omegas Run the Chicago Marathon FOR THE KIDS!

The University of Iowa Dance Marathon (UIDM) is an organization that many of our sisters hold close to their hearts. On October 7th, 2018, 18 of our sisters took on the streets of Chicago as charity runners for UIDM. Each participant running the Chicago Marathon for UIDM had to raise $750 to run the marathon and will have to raise a total of $1,000 to participate in the big event in February of 2019. For some of our sisters, this was their first ever marathon, but many of our sisters ran the Chicago Marathon for a second or even a third time for UIDM! Read below to hear each runner’s story on why they chose to run 26.2 miles. 


If those kids up on the 11th floor can endure months of treatment, needles, spinal taps, bone marrow transplants, and surgeries, surely I could run 26 miles in honor of their strength, bravery, and unwavering optimism!!! I wanted the kids to know we’re fighting for them, during the first quarter wave, at the Big Event, and out on the streets of Chicago!
— Renee Cafun
I loved running the marathon surrounded by a team that continues to be inspired by some amazing kids, and inspires others in return.
— Bella Swan
I ran for what I believe in: faith, charity, love, perseverance, and passion.
— Haleigh Houston
I have come to recognize over the years that I would do absolutely anything to support the kiddos and families being treated for pediatric cancer at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital... so with the Chicago Marathon being another way to show our support and honor their battle, there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to run 26.2 miles for them.
— Annie Korff
Running the marathon was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I thought about quitting more than once, I was exhausted from being up at 4 AM, and every part of my body ached. But then I looked down at my arm at the mile motivators and remembered why I was running. For the kids who are too sick to go outside and run around and just be a kid, for the kids dancing in our hearts who lost their battle to cancer and would never be able to do this, and for the kids who did triumph over their battle with cancer and we celebrate. Dance Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart and I will forever cherish this experience!
— Skyler Lawson
If the kiddos can fight cancer, I can run 26.2 miles.
— Morgan Ross
26.2 miles. A physical and mental fight... but nothing compares to the fight for their lives that the kiddos on 11 and everywhere go through each day battling cancer. I run (and dance) for more smiles, more laughs, and more birthdays. Always For The Kids
— Nicole Anderson
Running the Chicago Marathon was such an incredible, yet humbling experience. Each mile, I would look down at the kiddo’s names written on my arm and remind myself why I run. I run for more smiles, more birthdays, and more joy- but above all, I run in hope no other families are affected by pediatric cancer. To the toughest kiddos in the world, thank you for serving as my motivation every step of the way.
— Olivia Denkinger
I ran the Chicago Marathon to push my limits for the kids in another way! This organization has done so much for me in my college years, and I want to give back to it in each way I can. Being able to rep my lime on the streets of Chicago was one of the most special experiences of my entire life, and those kiddos motivated me through each and every mile. The pain my body felt was nothing compared to what those kids go through every single day. Until cancer is cured, I will keep on running, dancing, fundraising, and raising awareness FTK
— Hayley Stuenkel
I ran the Chicago Marathon for Dance Marathon this year to do what I can to help the kiddos battling cancer at the children’s hospital. No distance can compare to what they go through and we will continue to fight for them FTK!
— Megan Theis
“I ran the Chicago Marathon for the kiddos and families who continue fight 364 days a year against an illness that prevents kids from being kids. I ran for more birthdays, less pokes, and for kiddos to be able to run free of being attached to poles. I ran for a cure and I will continue to run and fight along side the strongest people I know until a cure is found.
— Gianna Fiandaca
The Chicago Marathon was one of the most incredible experiences I have had the chance of doing in my life. I laughed and I cried, but most importantly, I ran 26.2 miles for the strongest kiddos I know in their fight against pediatric cancer. I am so happy to have completed my first marathon in honor of Dance Marathon. It was so exciting to see how many other dedicated Chi Omegas running for the same great cause and so many of our sisters who came out to Chicago to support us! Every mile was dedicated to a kid who is either actively fighting cancer, in remission, dancing in our hearts or is cancer free. Every time it got hard and I felt tired, I looked down at the tattoo on my arm with all their names and found the motivation to keep going. If they can fight cancer, survive endless pokes/port accesses, withstand chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplants, I could l run 26.2 miles. My finisher medal is dedicated to these fighters, they deserve it so much more for what they do every single day! One day, I hope to say that pediatric cancer is a disease of the past, but until then we will keep fighting, fundraising, dancing, and running all For The Kids!!
— Ashley Mazzocchi
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I ran this marathon for the kiddos in the hospital that have to fight, and push their bodies to the limit every single day. It wasn’t easy, but it was well worth it.
— Kelly Lynch
I ran the marathon for all the kiddos that can not. They are strong enough to fight for their lives everyday - 26.2 is nothing compared to what families and kids have to go through, Always FTK!
— Rory Laubengayer
I ran for the needle - sticks, the hospital visits, the wigs purchased, the fear kiddos endure, the sorrow for loved ones lost, for one last end of chemo treatment, and not for just one, but many more birthdays. At the start of the race I ran with a parent who had lost their child to cancer. A song had come on the speaker, one which was his child’s favorite song. At that moment, we both knew that this kiddo was watching over us throughout the entire 26.2 miles. He knew we were running for him, every other child who has lost their battlle, the kiddos still fighting, those who have been officially been cured, and to one day find a cure.
— Courtney Sadler

Two of our sisters who ran the Chicago Marathon play a huge role in Dance Marathon as members of the Executive Board: Darby Drenzek and Gillian Fiandaca.

My position this year is the Outreach Director. As the Outreach Director, I get the opportunity to engage with populations such as UIDM Alumni, Mini Dance Marathon programs from across the state, faculty, and staff on the University of Iowa Campus, and others around the Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty community. I love this position because I am able to spread the mission of UIDM far across many walks of life.

I have always been amazed at the strength shown by our kiddos battling cancer and undergoing bone marrow transplants. It is such an honor to run 26.2 miles with kiddos’ names written on our arms - and their bravery fueling each step that we take.
— Darby Drenzek
I’m the Hospital Director and through my position have the absolute honor of working alongside pediatric oncology staff to bring as much hope as possible to the kids and families on the 11th floor of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. I ran for the kids I’ve met on 11, the kids who have graduated five years cancer free, and the kids who are forever dancing in our hearts.
— Gillian Fiandaca

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