Hi, I’m Angela Wendt, Morale Captain for Team Two. For this blog post I wanted to share my personal story as to why I dance.
My boyfriend Colton had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was younger, 13 to be exact. I didn’t know him then but, he was certainly the talk of the school for a little while. He spent approximately a year at The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s hospital for appointments, chemotherapy, radiation, and more. Even though Colton was never a miracle kiddo for any Dance Marathon, the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon still sent him cool stuff.
Before I came to UNI for college, Colton had mentioned to me how he gets things in the mail from those involved in DM at Iowa. I thought that was awesome to get a pillow case and card each year from insanely busy college kids. Colton and I even tend to fight over an awesome lime green blanket he received two years ago. Since I was able to see this impact on someone who once fought a cancerous battle I decided to join DM at UNI.
Three years ago in November Colton let me go with him to his check up at the Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. I hadn’t been to the children’s hospital before and I loved getting to see Kinnick, the small museum, and all the different technology they used for his check up. I didn’t know it then but, UNI DM was actually in the process of fully funding two brand new hospital rooms.
Fast forward to two years ago in March when Colton and I got to attend our first Big Event together at UNI. It was incredible. Truly an experience I will never forget. Colton and I made friends with a young girl who was there and we danced, played games, and just hung around her for a couple hours. She wasn’t wearing a purple kiddo shirt so I knew she wasn’t a miracle kiddo. We didn’t exactly know why she was at the Big Event at the time until we got to the last kiddo story of the night. Where that girl happened to get on stage with her family telling Jackson Gipe’s story. I would have never guessed I would see her cry that night up on stage after how much fun we had just had. This was definitely one of the hardest times Colton and I have ever cried.
Exactly one month and a day after this Big Event we found out Colton was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer. It’s been a long road since then but he’s been kicking cancer’s butt once again. Now, Colton and I make the trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. After two surgeries, Colton only worries about check ups now every six months. Colton is back to “normal.” He works hard and spends most of his free time outdoors.
Colton, his family, and I have found out exactly how important it is for those who have gone through chemotherapy to get proper oral care. His teeth are white and clean, but not as strong as they should be. The hospital quotes an oral care kit to be $10.
Anyways, everyday I’m thankful I have Colton and that he can always be there for me. He’s my person. However, I don’t exactly dance for Colton, I dance for what Colton has been able to teach me. He led me to finding out what Dance Marathon is. I love being able to share my story, share the kids’ stories, and help miracle kiddos financially and emotionally. It makes me happy to say all those kids I dance for have their family, friends, and DM behind them through all of it. They will fight until the end and I want to be there to fight with them.