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Stitch says that Ohana means family. But what does family mean? According to, family means: “a group of objects united by a significant shared characteristic.” UNI Dance Marathon has created a family over the past 5 years. A group of students, faculty, miracle families, and kiddos, that are united by a significant shared characteristic: ending childhood illnesses. Here is my story about joining the UNI DM Family: As a freshman coming to UNI back in ‘12, I was so homesick. Leaving my family was nearly impossible for me. Coming to college, I was under the impression that family was only people that you shared a home with. I was leaving my home, my best friends, and everything that I knew. Going into college, I thought I was apart of a family with 5 members, Mom, Dad, and two big brothers and then myself. Oh boy, was I wrong. Fast forward to March 2nd, 2013, which was my first time attending UNI Dance Marathon. I walked into Lang Hall expecting to bust some crazy dance moves, spend time with my roommate and the girls from my floor, maybe finally learn the fancy Wobble dance. Little did I know that my life was going to be changed on that snowy, March day. I walked in to Mauker Union and felt at home. There was a sea of orange, activities everywhere, and kiddos with the biggest smiles on their faces. As the day continued on, I met so many people that had such a love and yearning to help the kiddos. Throughout the 12 hours, I felt my heart change. It went from feeling empty and lost to overflowing with love, joy, and comfort. Meeting new friends, dancing with the kiddos, hearing families explain the journey that their family has had and were still going through...there is nothing like it. This was the day I found my place at UNI. It was in the UNI Dance Marathon family. The people you meet in Dance Marathon are some of the greatest people you will encounter in your whole college career, and I would even bet to say your life. The people that you meet through DM will be the people that you can call when you receive a $25 donation and need to tell someone the exciting news that you are that much closer to reaching your fundraising goal. They will be the people that will cry with you when you are supposed to be studying, but end up on UNI Dance Marathon’s youtube channel and cannot stop sobbing at the different Big Reveal videos. The people you meet are the type of people that will go out of their way to say “Nice DM shirt!” on Tangerine Thursdays, or any day, really. These are the type of people that you will bond with in a way that connects you at the heart. These people become your family. I urge you to become apart of this family. It is one that will make laugh more, smile bigger, feel all the feels, appreciated the little things in life, along with the big things, and one that you will be apart of for longer than just your college years. In this family, it is our mission to end childhood illness. We will not sit until each and every kiddos is healthy. I invite you, with most open arms, into our Dance Marathon family.

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