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Name: Matt Cabel

Age: 21

Major: Journalism

How long have you been dancing: DM20 was my first Big Event!

Every dancer who participates in UIDM has a unique story to tell. The ways people get involved, the special meaning DM has to them, and the best part of each event is different for every person. Matt Cable is a dancer who found his inspiration to participate in DM from going to visit the Big Event with a friend. From doubting his ability to complete the Big Event to being on the UIDM21 leadership team, Matt has his own journey with Dance Marathon to share.

“I never thought that I could do Dance Marathon.

Now, let me explain that a little bit. I always knew that I would be a welcome addition to the humongous family that is Dance Marathon, but I never thought I could actually *do it*. That is, handle the whole standing for 24 hours in a row thing. It’s hard enough for me to pull an all-nighter, let alone pull an all-nighter while I’m standing on my feet. I had great admiration for the people that I saw around me doing it, but I never thought I myself could, or would.

Then, my friend Kevin and I decided to be visitors at last year’s Big Event.

I was shocked at what I saw upon entering the IMU. This wasn’t just another student organization event. This was an entirely different *world*. The entire IMU was unrecognizable, the ballroom turned into a dance floor. There was an archway welcoming the dancers into this world, one where I expected to see exhausted bodies unenthusiastically moving around after being on their feet for the last 20 or so hours. What I did see beyond that arch was instead a huge mass of enthusiastic (albeit very tired) bodies, dancing, conversing and smiling, both on the ground and on the huge stage that was at the head of the room.

My friend and I joined them, and quickly found people that one of us knew, and started dancing. We were welcomed into the groups around us quickly (and even went up and danced on stage!) but it was pretty obvious that we weren’t really dancers. We were too peppy and not sweaty enough to fit in. I was able to listen to a Dance Marathon kid and his family talk about the experience of cancer, the experience of the constant hospital visits, etc. It was touching, to say the least.

It never really hits you until you hear it directly from someone who experienced it just how much cancer effects the life of not only the patient, but the lives of their family, friends, the doctors, and even the lives of the dancers, who may have only heard a family’s story.

Thankfully, this kiddo’s story had a happy ending, and I was able to see more happy endings a little bit later, when the graduation ceremony started. My friend and I were inconspicuously dancing when suddenly all of the dancers had gathered back into the ballroom, and a carpet had been placed down the center of the room, towards the stage. The classic graduation music played over the stereo, and I watched in complete awe as the kids who have been in remission for five years walked down the aisle to ‘graduate’ from Dance Marathon.

The cheers emitted from the gathered dancers, and the larger than life smiles that formed on the kid’s faces made me kind of start to cry (Manly tears, of course).

I was sold.

I told Kevin as soon as the ceremony ended that I was going to participate in DM 20. I didn’t care that I would have to fund raise. I didn’t care that I would have to stand on my feet for 24 hours. See, I want to see another group of kids graduate from this program.

These kids don’t have a choice to be diagnosed with this terrible disease called cancer. But I’ve seen some of these kids. I’ve heard some of there stories. And I know that none of them let this disease get the best of them. They never give up on the fight, whether they win or lose. Yeah, so maybe my legs will hate me after five hours or so. Yeah, so maybe I’ll be really tired for the next week. But just like these kids don’t have a choice, neither do I anymore. I can’t stand by and watch them go through this and not do something to help.

I haven’t even truly experienced the Big Event yet, but Dance Marathon has already changed my life. I have a whole new outlook, a whole new appreciation for this life that was given to me, and a bunch of determination for anything that may come my way. Kids 10 or more years younger than me are, and have fought, *cancer*, for God’s sake. I can get through a bad day, or suffer through studying for a test. It’s nothing compared to what these kids are going through.

I want to raise this $400 (and beyond) to make sure that there were more kids walking down that graduation aisle in the years to come. I want to be there to see the rainbow of numbers showing that we once again broke the record from last year for donations.

But most importantly, I want to stand for those kids who can’t.”

 

Written by: Makenzie Pick

 

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