We planned to arrive at the IU dance marathon at around 8:00pm on Friday evening. We were going to check in at our hotel, put our stuff in the room and head to the tennis center at IU.
What I didn’t factor in was the fact that we were going to be driving through Indianapolis at 6pm…on a Friday. Yikes. What usually takes about twenty minutes (a trip via 465 from I69 to US37) took, oh, maybe an hour and a half.
As we sat in stop and go traffic, the girls and I had a lot of laughs but we also decided then and there we were going to check in at the hotel and stay there. Olivia wanted to take a bath and Alyssa wanted to order a pizza and I just wanted to be out of the car and not have to get back in until the next day.
Luckily, the IU dance marathon is a 36 hour event. I say luckily only with a little bit of sarcasm that is left over from when I was a dancer at this very event. 36 hours is a damn long time to be awake and on your feet. But it also give families like us the opportunity to roll with the punches that traffic can throw.
We were up bright and early (Olivia woke me up at 5:35, she’s a peach, that one) and were at the dance marathon by 8:30. Yes, it took us three hours to get over that, what of it?
People who do dance marathons year after year are amazing. I was not one of those people. Dancing in a dance marathon, for me, was one of those things I was glad I did one time but I never, ever wanted to do it again. There are students there now that do it every single year of their college career. They amaze me. They’re either extremely selfless or gluttons for punishment. I’m can’t figure out which, actually.
Each dance marathon we attend finds us matched to a student who, it seems, has the job of playing with A and O all weekend long. This is amazing and I feel for these students who must be exhausted by the time we leave. Tori was our match this year and she was so kind, so sweet and made such a connection with Olivia. After only a couple of hours, Tori could read O’s mind, or at least O’s facial expressions, which is a good because Olivia wasn’t really interested in talking. Nothing new, there, right?
We were asked to tell O’s story this year. I always feel so honored to go on stage and talk about my girl. But this year, I wanted to do more than tell Olivia’s story. I wanted to let these students, these hundreds of college students who were giving up a weekend of their lives, how amazing I thought they were and what a great thing they were doing.
I hope I succeeded.
There are also some amazing Riley families at the dance marathons. I almost feel like a fraud each year because Olivia is so healthy and doing so well that she only had to see the developmental pediatrician at Riley every two years. But the girls have so much fun and everyone is so kind that I can’t bring myself to stop going.
Even when a four hour drive turns into a six hour drive, it’s worth it because we are making a difference. Every single person that attends these dance marathons, from the dancers, to the committee members to the executive committee to yes, even the Riley families makes a difference. That includes me and my sweet little girls, who bounced their little hearts out in the awesome bounce house.
The drive back didn’t take nearly as long as the drive down. It might have something to do with hitting Indianapolis at 10:30am on a Sunday morning instead of 6pm on a Friday night. Maybe.
I’m just glad my girls are such great travelers. It doesn’t even matter that we stopped to use the bathroom six times during a four hour trip.
Honestly, I'm just glad we made it to both the Purdue and the Indiana University dance marathons on time (as in, not a week early or a month late.) When I make it somewhere on the actual date of the event? I call it a good day.