Students, family celebrate life with Dakotathon kick-off
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Students, family celebrate life with Dakotathon kick-off

April 23, 3:30 p.m.

With Dakotathon in full swing, participants arrived at the Wellness Center just before 3:30 p.m.

The Miracle children and dancers played games sporadically while the organizers set up speakers on the basketball courts.

Soon after, more than 200 participants learned another rendition of the miracle dance.  The newest addition included moves synchronized to “Barbie Girl” by Aqua and other popular songs.

Some of the dancers took part in a game of human Foosball – a modified game of soccer where four or more players form a line by holding a single stick and have to move as a unit.

Additionally, the USD men’s basketball team came and played a game with the Miracle children. Both the men and the children hit a couple of three-pointers, and the men even helped a couple of the younger kids dunk the ball.

The children won the game and as a result, the men had to take pies in the face. Each member of the men’s basketball team got ravished by the children, who had multiple pies to throw.

After another round of dancing, a family talk was given by a mother whose daughter had recently won a battle with Leukemia. The mother shared with the attentive dancers the struggles they endured during the child’s battle with the deadly disease.

The session at the Wellness Center concluded with an energetic stage of zumba, which lasted ten minutes.

April 23, 9 a.m.

Excitement was in the air as many waited in line to register for Dakotathon at the Muenster University Center on Saturday morning.

The day started with introducing the organization’s executive board and welcoming the Miracle children. The children arrived on Charlie Carts and were welcomed through a tunnel of participants.

The children ran through the tunnel while all the participants cheered them on. Once the Miracle children got onto the stage, their group morale leaders came to get them to join their group.

President James Abbott then welcomed the families and the students. He said he appreciated that so many USD students choose to participate in life and not just stand on the side lines.

Next, Grant and Janelle Van Riesen’s shared the story of their daughter, Maci, and how she was born at 26 weeks. When she was born, she was smaller than a soda bottle. She had a rare throat disease, and had a botox treatment that helped her to swallow.

Maci is now 4 years old and still spends time in the Castle of Care in Sioux Falls for respiratory treatment.

This is the Van Riesen’s second time attending Dakotathon. Grant Van Riesen said his favorite part of the event is the tunnel that the kids get to run through.

“Maci is very shy, but she really enjoys dancing with people she knows from other events,” Janelle Van Riesen said.