For most high school and college students, spring break is a time to have fun, relax, and maybe do some traveling. For Valpo freshman Marko Labovic, however, spring break 2013 was a frightening time of uncertainty as he faced medical concerns that led to a trip to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
“At first they weren’t exactly sure what was wrong, but the doctors and nurses really made me feel comfortable,” Marko said. After some tests, he was diagnosed with myocarditis and pericarditis, conditions that involve inflammation of the heart muscle and the tissue surrounding the heart.
Marko shared his story at Valparaiso University’s second annual Dance Marathon, held Saturday, Feb. 1. Dance Marathon is the official philanthropy of Valpo’s fraternity and sorority community and is part of a nationwide movement involving more than 150 schools across the United States, all raising money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Marko was one of several former and current patients of Children’s Miracle Network hospitals who spoke during the event, giving a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration to the dancers.
“Dance Marathon really brought together the sororities and fraternities toward a just cause,” Marko said. “It’s a great event for Valpo.”
This year, Valpo raised $24,280 for Lurie Children’s Hospital. Organizations and individuals from across campus joined the fraternities and sororities to dance for the cause, more than doubling the participation from last year’s inaugural event. While the dance itself lasted eight hours, senior Joshua Bieck explained that the effort began months earlier.
“The event is designed as a final push for fundraising and as a celebration of our dancers’ hard work,” Joshua said.
Joshua danced with his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, in Valpo’s first Dance Marathon in November 2012. The experience was so transformational that he knew he had to be involved in planning this year’s event. He joined the executive committee, which began meeting at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. In January the top 50 fundraisers — Joshua included — were invited to tour Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“After visiting the hospital and discovering how the staff goes above and beyond for their patients and families, I am certain they make miracles happen with the help from our donations,” he said.
Lurie Children’s Hospital, formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital, is the largest pediatric care provider in the region. The funds raised by Valpo’s Dance Marathon will support research, education, prevention, and the hospital’s Family Life Center. Joshua said the event exceeded all of his expectations, and he was truly elated when he learned of its success.
“Being part of Dance Marathon has been unlike anything I have experienced,” Joshua said. “It gives me such a sense of pride in my school and our students that we could accomplish something as monumental as this.”
For Joshua, being involved in Valpo’s fraternity and sorority community has only intensified his passion for serving others. And it’s led to a sense of purpose that he will carry with him even after he graduates.
“As my time as a student at Valpo comes to an end, and it’s time to embrace post-grad opportunities, I can only hope that I will be able to work for a passionate and inspiring organization like Dance Marathon,” Joshua said.