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Meet Hannah Gilllaspey

Hannah Gillaspey, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, is one of the brave souls who took on the 24-hour Dance Marathon this year. Dance Marathon is a student-run organization that raises money to help support youth cancer patients and their families. There is a Big Event held each year where students stay awake and on their feet for 24 hours without caffeine. Being a participant last year, Hannah knew she wanted to be more involved this year and for the years to come. Hannah took on the position of being on the family relations committee this year. Along with this position, she is also the chief recruiting officer for her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, an assistant coach for Girls on the Run, participates in the Child Life organization and also the Therapeutic Recreation organization. Hannah also decided to run this year for the kids in an actual marathon held in Chicago last year. While taking on all these tasks, she put so much time into Dance Marathon for the kids, so let’s meet her!

What was your position for DM, and what did you do throughout the event?

I was a part of the Family Relations Committee, which has three sub committees; family programing, family rep and Hospital. I was on Hospital, which lets me go up to the hospital 3 hours a week and play with the kids on the oncology floor. Throughout the event we ran the family room. All Family Relations played and interacted with the families and kiddos.

Why do you choose to dance?

I dance for the kids and their families. Being on FR this year put into perspective for me on why I truly dance, and it's for the kids that get to keep on dancing and for the ones that are dancing in our hearts. Dance Marathon does so much for these families and being a part of it all is so special.

What is your favorite part about DM and why?

My favorite part of DM is the interaction and connections I make with the families. Going to every family event has made me make so many connections with kiddos and their families that I will never forget. It;s fun to see the same kids running around at each event and saying hi to them.

Who/what inspired you to start doing DM?

Coming to the University of Iowa I knew I wanted to do DM. My cousins did it when they were here so I kind of learned about it from them. But I really just wanted to come and make a difference in the kiddos' lives.

Will you continue to do DM in the future?

Hands down yes. DM has become my special little family that I will never forget.

How much money did you personally raise this year?

$1,217.91

Did you get to interact with the kids/ families a lot?

Yes I did. I hung out in the family room throughout the big event. It was fun to connect with families that I have seen throughout the year and also meet new ones. I never thought a 9-year-old little boy could become my best friend in just 24 short hours.

Do you want a different position for DM next year?

I would love to stay on FR. We became a family this year, and I never want to replace them. In DM you can't hold the same position twice, so I am hoping to be on some of the other committees throughout FR.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of participating next year?

DO DANCE MARATHON IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I always heard that Dance Marathon would change your life but I never thought it would be true. Ever since last year, Dance Marathon has changed me and my life for the better. You meet some of your best friends through Dance Marathon. If you’re worried about not being able to stand on your feet for 24 hours straight, think of the kiddos up at the hospital right now battling cancer for 24 hours every single day. The amount of laughs, smiles, tears and singing you do is out of this world. Its so special to be in the ballroom throughout the Big Event and at the end seeing that tote board come up really reminds you why you dance and how much of an impact you’re making on these families. 

Natalie Lawyer is a sophomore at the University of Iowa studying Journalism. She is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Her dreams are to eventually leap into the fashion world and write for a fashion magazine. In her free time she loves to make YouTube videos about fashion and lifestyle. You can check her out on YouTube at youtube.com/natalielawyer. Stay in the know and catch me on Twitter and Instagram (@natalielawyer)!
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