When Steve Dreher, whose son has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, started telling his story on the Dance Marathon stage during Block 6, he motivated the dancers in a way that no Top 40 song could.
Dreher stood on the Dance Marathon stage, script in hand, but ignored his pre-written speech and spoke from his heart. He told the story of his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease his family spent a year fighting together. And against all odds, they won. Therefore, when his son Gus was diagnosed with Duchenne 18 months later, he started believing despite the doctor’s warnings that his son can be saved.
When Dreher describes his relationship with Gus, tears start to form in his eyes. Dreher said that Gus has habits that none of his other kids do, he will look at his father and say, “hey Dad, I love you.” Dreher describes it as Gus’ way of keeping his father’s spirits up, and making sure that he is okay. When Dreher reached the climax of his story, a small anecdote about his son’s dream to one day teach his children how to play basketball like his father taught him, everyone grabbed the people near them. Dancers and committee members held their friends, and seemed to forget that they had been on their feet for 18 hours.
At this point of Dance Marathon every dancer seems to be experiencing different emotions. Some complain about their feet, others their level of exhaustion and others are celebrating finally getting a second wind of energy.
However, Dreher’s speech was the first time over a thousand dancers seemed to be going through the same emotions at the same time. The dancers were reminded that they are not only dancing for the experience, but for a cause. When President Barack Obama mentioned in his video message to the dancers that they were, “making a difference in the life of [their] community and [their] country, “ the dancers were just excited to start grooving. But now, they seem to believe it. They starting visualizing the effects their fundraising and dancing is going to have on these children. A future where the children Dreher talked about could live past childhood, dance as much as they want and fulfill their dreams.
So as the dancers forget their teams and start dancing as one Northwestern community, each block does not only mean one step closer to the end, it means one step closer to a cure.