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Dance Marathon a family affair for UI freshman

BY KATIE HEINE | JANUARY 31, 2011 7:10 AM

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Alissa Bornhoft is ready to dance. Actually, she’s been ready for a few years now.

Although she is only a freshman at the University of Iowa, she is no stranger to Dance Marathon.

Her older sister, Lindsay Bornhoft, a fifth-year senior, has been involved with the organization for five years. But the time has finally come for the 18-year-old.

“I think it’s going to be the most exciting and emotional roller coaster of my life,” said the first-year dancer.

Alissa Bornhoft caught her first glimpse of Dance Marathon at last year’s “Big Event.” She and her parents volunteered in the bag room, where all the dancers stash their belongings.

In between organizing backpacks and distributing duffle bags, the Humboldt, Iowa, native was able to sneak a peek inside the Main Ballroom. And that’s when she knew the event was something she had to be involved in.

“By the end of the night, I was in tears,” she said. After listening to several families’ stories and witnessing Power Hour — the final hour of the “Big Event” — it was clear to her why her sister became so dedicated to the organization.

“It’s been the most memorable and life-changing event for her,” Bornhoft said, later adding, “This is something I’ll definitely follow her in.”

Following her only sister’s lead is not unusual for her.

The two girls were very close growing up. When Lindsay did something new, Alissa wanted to follow. Both participated in dance, track, and drill team in high school.

“She had a pretty big impact on my life,” said Alissa Bornhoft. And Dance Marathon is no exception.

After witnessing a small portion of the event, she said, she knew she wanted to be more involved.

“Being there and seeing it, I was just like, ‘Yeah, I definitely want to do that,’ ” she said.

This year, the duo teamed up to raise their money, and so far, they’ve raised almost $1,200, which exceeded their expectations. They cosigned fundraising letters, which garnered support from Humboldt.

Lindsay Bornhoft, who is now the family-relations director, joined Dance Marathon during her freshman year. She said she didn’t know about the organization until her mother discovered it at Orientation and told her she had to participate.

Five years later, she said she can’t imagine her life without it.

“It totally puts your priorities in check,” she said.

She is in charge of contacting more than 500 families whom Dance Marathon supports. And those families have had an effect on her own.

“It’s kind of become a family thing,” said Lindsay Bornhoft, whose parents, Kevin and Sherri Bornhoft, plan to volunteer at the “Big Event” again this year.

As parents, the Bornhofts said they were proud of their daughters for taking time out of their busy schedules to contribute.

Dance Marathon has become an important aspect of the parents’ lives, too. That’s why the two will be part of spirit dancing for the first time this weekend.

“It’ll be neat with both of them out there together this year,” Sherri Bornhoft said.


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