Stacy Bernstein, a sophomore from St. Louis, is interested in helping kids. As a freshman, Bernstein became involved with KU Dance Marathon and is now a committee chair. She said joining was one of the best decisions she has made at KU so far.
KU Dance Marathon is a twelve-hour dance party that sponsors children with life-threatening illnesses and raises money for Children’s Miracle Network and KU Pediatrics. At the beginning of each spring semester committee members of KU Dance Marathon start narrowing down worthy candidates to be sponsored by Dance Marathon. With many deserving candidates in the greater Kansas City area, having to decide whom to sponsor can be a challenge.
In April, KU Dance Marathon announced that it would sponsor the McCleary family in the 2014 KU Dance Marathon. This is the first time in since KU started a Dance Marathon five years ago that a set of quadruplets, all with life-threatening illnesses, has been sponsored.
Morgan Krug, KU Dance Marathon co-family relations coordinator, said picking the families is the most exciting time of the year. “I’m the direct contact with the families, so it’s fun to finally know who I’m going to be working with for the next several months,” Krug said.
“Our kids were born 11 weeks early and when they were born we didn’t know if they were going to make it,” Stephanie McCleary said. “To make matters worse, I ended up getting an infection in my uterus and was hospitalized myself. When my kids were first born I couldn’t visit them in the NICU and I was terrified.”
The McCleary quadruplets were born on April 1, 2009, and stayed in the ICU well into June. The quadruplets were released at different times based on the conditions they were in.
“KU Pediatrics saved our family. We owe everything to them,” McCleary said. Five years later, the McCleary quadruplets are doing well. McCleary said her kids are active, rambunctious, and eager to start kindergarten in the fall.
The McClearys are active supporters of KU Pediatrics, and even though they are no longer receiving treatments, they remain a part of support groups and attend functions. Since they still have bills to pay, KU Pediatrics nominated them to be a Dance Marathon miracle family. “Each child’s stay was 1.6 million dollars. Five years later we are almost out of debt,” McCleary said. “Everything helps; we appreciate all the support we have received throughout the years.”
Last year KU Dance Marathon raised $60,000 and donated it all to KU Pediatrics and Children’s Miracle Network. KU Pediatrics then uses the money received to support families, like the McClearys, who are faced with an unimaginable amount of debt due to life threatening illnesses. This year KU Dance Marathon is trying to raise $150,000. Money is raised through donations, sponsorships with local businesses, and registration fees.
Last year 400 KU students participated in KU Dance Marathon, and this fall the number of participants is expected to rise. “I have participated in Dance Marathon for the past two years now and I love it. I will definitely be doing it again next year,” participant Katie Walter said.
Bernstein, KU Dance Marathon committee member, said Dance Marathon is something all KU students should participate in at least once during their four years. “Most students worry about when their next test is going to be, and these kids are fighting for their lives. It’s a humbling experience and at the same time, it’s a ton of fun,” she said.
Interested in seeing the McClearys YouTube Channel? Check it out here.
Until next time,