Three years ago today my cousin Taylor was born. Since then, she has turned into quite the little sassy pants, but gets away with it because she is so darn cute!

1See what I mean?! Unfortunately, Taylor gave “the terrible twos” a whole new meaning. At just two years old, Taylor was air lifted all by herself to the UIHC from my hometown of Dubuque. I remember exactly where I was and how it felt to get the text from my grandma explaining what happened. I still feel the lump in my throat and the looks people gave me as I cried my way onto the Cambus to get to the hospital as soon as I could.

When Taylor arrived at the hospital, I witnessed the amazing doctors and nurses stabilize her. I felt so helpless as they asked me what her symptoms were and what types of things she liked. I said, “I don’t really know what her symptoms were; I’m only her cousin. She has a dog.” That was probably the least helpful thing anyone has ever said, but it is impossible to think of something that will make a two year old happy as they are being poked and prodded by a room full of strangers.

2Luckily, her parents and grandparents arrived soon after. Taylor was very brave and the next few days she stayed at the hospital to be monitored. We learned that she has Type One Diabetes and that it is something she will have for the rest of her life. Although it can be controlled with the monitoring of blood sugars and insulin insertion, there are a lot of things she isn’t able to do. For example, she can’t go down a slide at the park because the static electricity causes her insulin pump to stop working. If that happens, it needs to be changed which is a waste of about $100. Her parents need to buy her pumps, sensors, insulin, and much more regularly. They also need to tell her that she can’t have the brownie that her two older brothers get to have because it will make her sick.

Even though Taylor’s life is majorly impacted by her condition, she is still able to live a long life doing most of the things she enjoys. Some kids aren’t as lucky as her! I tell this story because I think it is important to remind ourselves why we dance year round. When I don’t feel like fundraising or panic last minute because I haven’t written my blogs yet, I remember why I am so passionate about this organization. I sometimes still get upset about how unfair it is. She doesn’t deserve to have a childhood limited by illness and her parents don’t deserve the financial and emotional stress it causes. I can imagine Dance Marathon families understand those feelings all too well.

Now that I have a sense of what some of the families experience day in and day out, it is much easier to stay motivated. Dance Marathon gives families something to focus on in times of anger, confusion, and sadness. That being said, I encourage you to remind yourself why you are a part of this organization (or why you need to join it). I know everyone is starting to get excited about returning to school and it is equally important to be that excited about Dance Marathon. Until then, continue your summer fundraising and spread some lime!

Written By: Justine Atkinson



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