To all DMUMers:
Greetings from old person world! You all must be so excited that the Marathon is coming up so soon. Congratulations to all of you for all of your hard work and your dedication this year to everything from family events to fundraising, and you deserve every bit of the experience you will have at the Marathon. As the Marathon draws closer, I wanted to take the opportunity to share something that happened at last year’s Marathon (which happened to be my first and last as a student).
Our team had had a great year, and now it was approximately hour 29.5. The closing ceremonies were taking place, and a Dance Marathon alumus (who had recently started college) came on stage and performed a xylophone solo to “Home” by Phillip Phillips. Two lines of the song cut through the adrenaline of being close to the finish line and seemed to sink in for me:
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
Well, I thought to myself, the Marathon had certainly come to feel like home in the past 30 hours. But, what happened in about half an hour when we all heard how much money we’d raised and we all went back to our bedrooms to sleep? Pretty soon after that thought started to creep in, I had to remind myself that while the Marathon was temporary, home was something more permanent.
All of us, from the kids to the dancers, have had to find a way to make our home. While I will never fully know the pain that these kids have faced in their lives, I can attest that making your home can be made very difficult when you are labeled as being some derivative from a societal definition of normal, and that somehow this difference means you are less worthy of feeling at home.
But what all of those involved with DMUM have created over the past 17 years has become something special that extends beyond the marathon, therapies, and fundraising events. It is a mindset of continually discovering how you can make yourself feel strong and proud, and finding ways for you to spark those same feelings in others, regardless of background. It is an environment where everyone feels like they have something to contribute and is valued for being a unique person who has feelings, solves problems others can’t, and makes mistakes (and finds a way to learn from them). But most of all, it is a place where, regardless of distances, the common bond between everyone is love.
That is home. And as that realization came to my sleep deprived brain, tears began to stream down my face.
I now speak directly to anyone who will be participating in their last marathon as a student, because believe me, I know that it can be anything from strange to downright terrifying to think about what comes after DMUM in your life. As a 1st year alumna, I wanted to assure you that, while the upcoming distances between you and the Marathon may seem daunting, the Marathon has a way of following you. This past year, I have seen it in my family, work (and those at work that now feel like my family), friends, volunteering at the humane society, and with going from barely being able to run a mile last July to planning on running my first 10K this year. There will continue to be experiences where the Marathon finds all of us, because quite frankly, I don’t think anyone who has experienced the Marathon will ever want to go without it.
So, as we will all continue to hear, welcome home.
Much DMUM love,