8:25 a.m. —
As the dancers, speakers, families, and children stream in and out of the main lounge, up above them hang two very special tributes to children both alive and gone.
Skirting the room are pillow cases upon pillow cases, each designed in its own unique style to fit a child’s name scrawled across the front.
These pillow cases were designed by Dance Marathoners who have gotten especially close with a child and their family for at least a year. Whether it is through contacts such as corresponding through letters, sending happy birthday wishes, or visits to the family the dancers get the opportunity to celebrate their child’s personality.
No two pillow cases are in any way, shape, or form similar. “DM loves Kelly,” reads one. Jason is singing in our hearts,” said another with a microphone sandwiched between two pink hearts.
“Hawkeyes for Shaymus,” says another one decorated with a black hawkeye jersey.
And then there are two quilts hanging in a silent vigil for every child ever involved in dance marathon who had died.
“It represents the kids who didn’t survive their fight,” said Sara Shankman, media relations and morale captain.
One reads, “In celebration of their lives,” and names of the deceased sprinkle the blanket.
Shankman said they hope they’ll never have to add a third quilt.
— By Alison Sullivan and Nina Earnest