Hello friend!!! My name is Heidi Schaetzl and I’m a junior studying math elementary education. I hope to someday start a Dance Marathon program in the school where I teach, and someday to be a teacher in a children’s hospital for the kids who are there long term. I will drag every person I can into the wonderful world of Dance Marathon. No lie. Half my wardrobe is DM apparel and the half of the remaining clothes are ones I paint in, of course, for DM.
I came into Dance Marathon by chance. A friend dragged me to the involvement fair and subsequently to the committee meeting following. And I fell in love. There is something inherently good about people who will willingly stand for hours on end for people they may not even know. I was determined to surround myself with as many of these people as possible.
My first year was spectacular. Deprived of sleep because of finishing the decorations that week, I had four close friends with me at the marathon. I was a proud member of the trash committee and I was determined to take out every trash can before they overflowed. I was so focused on not falling asleep and doing my job that I didn’t get to spend time with the kids until the very end. After the big reveal, I found Emerald. As one of the older miracle children, she knew exactly how much hope we were bringing to kids like her. She and I sat together as people streamed around us and we cried and hugged and cried some more. That was my first God moment relating to Dance Marathon, and I vowed it wouldn’t be my last.
If my first year was spectacular, my second year was magical. I took initiative in my committee and built things all by myself. I made more friends, both on my committee and on other ones, and made an effort to fundraise more. I stayed up late again the week of the marathon working on decorations, but those nights are some of my favorite memories of Dance Marathon, because I got to spend it with my committee leaders who have now graduated. During my time at the marathon, I was fortunate enough to introduce my family to it, showing them all the hard work I’d put into it and how it impacts those around me. At the end of the marathon, I found Emerald again and cried with her, and assured her I would apply for Dream Team and she hadn’t seen the last of me.
Lucky for me, I received a place on the leadership committee to lead the committee I’d spent the last two years being a part of. Dream Team gives me the added bonus of getting to go to events with families, spending time with them. From having my own committee and leading it with my best friend, to getting to know the Schmidts on a personal level, this year looks like it will be the best year yet! I can’t wait to keep up the tradition of crying with Emerald after the marathon, and make more memories with Hannah and Logan, Jillian, Riley Jo, and so many more! Having a Dance Marathon family on campus and throughout the Holland area makes Hope really feel like home, and I can’t understand how it could get any better than this next year!
This year, a close family friend was diagnosed with San Filippo Syndrome. It’s an incurable disease that is characterized by Fiona’s inability to produce an enzyme that helps her break down glycosaminoglycans which then build up in her cells. I grew up with Fiona and her family, and now they’re half a country away, and Fiona likely won’t live past fifteen. I’m lucky if I get to see her one last time before the disease takes her. Fiona is my personal reason why I dance. She is my family, and I’ll fight for her every hour of the marathon, even if she won’t be there with me.