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“We dance for the chance, cuz there is no better way, UNI DM is FTK!” “FTK, FTK, FTK” “We are FTK!” Now you may have heard these phrases a few times before, but what does it really mean to be FTK? For those of you who do not know, FTK means, “For the Kids.” Everything we do is for the kids. Dance Marathon is an organization that raises money for the Iowa Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. All of this money raised goes to the kiddos; to help them be more comfortable in their hospital room, to help them get their bravery beads, and to help them have a brighter future. Being FTK means joining Dance Marathon. It means attending the Cookie 5K, the Orange Party, the Black Tie Affair, and the Big Event. It means hanging out with friends who are also FTK, it means hanging with kiddos and their families, and it means talking about Dance Marathon to your family and friends. Being FTK means sharing social media posts and watching DM videos for hours on end. It means giving up weekends and nights to make this happen. Being FTK means reminding yourself that this isn’t about you, it’s about them, our miracle kiddos. Kiddos who have spent too many hours in a hospital, kiddos who did not get to experience the childhood you and I did, kiddos who look forward to our events because it gives them a break from their everyday, kiddos who might not get to be adults, kiddos who got the short end of the stick, kiddos who hurt, and kiddos who are way stronger than any of us could ever imagine being. Being FTK means being part of something bigger. So much bigger than class, and college, and a social life, and you. It means giving yourself to something else, giving your time, support, and effort to make someone else’s life just the slightest bit better. It means giving these kiddos hope and someone to look up to. It means showing their parents that we are with them; that they are not doing this alone. It means being there for people who need you and want you to be a part of their life. Finally, being FTK means being a family. It means laughing together, crying together, and of course dancing together. It means joining 1,000 other individuals who feel the way you feel, who want what you want, and who have the same goal. Being FTK means hearing that final number and jumping up and down and then balling your eyes out, only to end it all standing in a circle holding hands with your new family and miracle families singing “I Hope You Dance”, feeling a feeling like you have never felt before. It means eating, sleeping, and breathing Dance Marathon, it means bleeding orange, and it means being For The Kids!

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