Taylor Helland, a dance marathon supporter, gave many TCU students a personal connection to pediatric cancer. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011.
“It means quite a lot this year because of Taylor,” said sophomore Mary Fran Wright, event operations and event activities director of TCUDM. “Visiting the hospital so many times through dance marathon…really put a perspective on how much hurt there is in a place of healing.”
TCUDM is a student-run philanthropic organization that hosts an annual 12-hour dance marathon in the TCU Recreational Center. Participants dance from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., raising money and awareness for Cook Children’s Hospital. This year’s event raised $45,442.23.
A total of 250 students, alumni and families from the hospital participated in this year’s event. Nine-year-old Chloe Brown came for the dancing.
“I just came to do the ‘Whip’ and ‘Nae Nae’,” Chloe said. “And to dance.”
Chloe is a two-time survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Rhonda Brown, Chloe’s mother, heard about TCUDM through the Helland family when her daughter was a patient at the hospital.
“They are accepting the kids here just like they are one of them,” Brown said. “Kids are taking care of kids.”
Junior Lexie Perez, TCUDM president, started the dance marathon in the fall of 2014. Perez said she learned about the dance marathon after a friend participated in a similar event at Auburn University.
“The marathon means enduring something we aren’t used to,” Perez said. “We get to experience a hardship that the kids and the families experience every day.”
In its first year, TCUDM raised $12,525.82 for the hospital. Perez said she hopes the event will continue to grow and expand.
TCUDM participants got a free Zumba session, a line dance tutorial and a surprise appearance from TCU alumna and “The Bachelor” Olivia Caridi.
“It’s a way for TCU to give back to those who are suffering,” sophomore Will Mitchell said. “This is our way of doing something about it and for us to make a difference.”
The money raised and hours spent dancing was dedicated not only to the children, but also to Taylor Helland.
TCUDM thanked everyone who came out and fulfilled their mission statement: “We dance for those who can’t!”