UI students run 26.2 miles FTK at the 2017 Chicago Marathon

Students share how special running to raise money For The Kids was this past Sunday

Every year at the Chicago Marathon, the most dedicated University of Iowa students travel to Illinois to represent Dance Marathon and raise money running For The Kids.

It's no surprise that this year was another huge turnout for Dance Marathon runners. We spoke to several students who toughed out the 26.2 miles to support the children at the Stead Family Children's Hospital all the way back home in Iowa City.

Get your tissues ready, Hawkeyes, your fellow students' testimonies are beyond heart warming.

Nicole, 20

Running the marathon was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was also one of the most amazing days I’ve experienced.

When it got difficult, I would look down at my arm and remember which kiddo I was running for during that mile, and it would push me to go forward, along with the spectators who were yelling “Go Dance Marathon!” Or “FTK” at me!

The last mile, as my legs were burning with pain, but the only thing going through my head was FTK. I was so overcome with joy at the finish line that I had just ran a marathon for the kids that I burst into tears! It was an absolutely inspirational and impactful experience in my Dance Marathon involvement this far!

If these kids can fight cancer, I can run 26.2 miles.

Alex, 21

This year was my second time running Chicago as a charity runner for Dance Marathon.

Dance Marathon was able to send over 200 individuals to run through Chicago. Each runner displayed our favorite three letters, FTK, on their jerseys. The runners had to raise $750 each by October 1st. Overall, our runners raised over $240,000.

Running a marathon can be very difficult, but knowing that we were doing it for the kiddos on the 11th floor of the Children's Hospital made it all worthwhile.

Annie, 21

Running the Chicago Marathon was the craziest, most difficult yet rewarding experience I have ever been a part of, and to have been able to run it for the kiddos at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and show them my support was an absolute honor.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do FTK!

Michael, 19

It meant a lot to me to run in the marathon. When you run, you really start to understand how much it means to everyone involved. There were so many people cheering us on and wearing Iowa gear, it really does help you push through when you feel like you can't keep going.

I was hoping to finish in 5 hours and ended up finishing in 5:29 min. For my first time I was really pleased with my results.

Overall it was a really awesome experience and it was cool to see how much support people are willing to give to DM.

What a weekend. 26.2 ✔️ Thank you for all of the support!!! #FTK

A post shared by Michael Marti (@michaelmarti31) on

Alex, 21

Running the Chicago Marathon—for the second time!—was the best day of my life.

Running is my passion and to put that to the test all For The Kids always means more than I can describe. I loved every minute and I can't wait to be back next year!

Double tap if you're FTK 👊🏼 #26.2 #RunningForTheKids

A post shared by alex_seavey (@alex_seavey) on

"A marathon is hundreds of miles, the finish is the last 26.2." Thank you to everyone who supported me over the past 4 months and for making me feel cool every time I said how far I ran during training. FOR THE KIDS ALWAYS 💚 P.S. same time next year??

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Rachel, 21

It was my first time running for Dance Marathon this year and it was totally great! The energy from the crowd and passion from the runners around me was so so incredible.

Running overall meant a lot to me. Finishing the marathon was the first major thing on my bucket list I could cross off, a way to prove to myself what I was physically and mentally capable of. Most importantly, it was a way to support an absolutely incredible organization and cause, Dance Marathon.

The only negative part of the experience—besides the perpetual soreness left in my legs—was when I grabbed what I thought was Vaseline from a volunteer and immediately smothered it on my running-induced cuts, only to find out the hard way that it was IcyHot!

For the bucket list, for the free items, and For The Kids!!!!!

A post shared by Rachel Kettelkamp (@_rachel_k) on

Greg, 20

This was my first time running a marathon, so I decided I’d run it as a way to raise money for Dance Marathon. I knew if the kids could battle cancer, the least I could do is show them we are there to fight with them.

The race itself was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. The first 10 miles I was running on adrenaline, so they went by quick. Miles 10 through around 17 were harder, but because of training I was able to get through them. Around mile 22 my quads cramped up and I could hardly walk, let alone run, so at this point it was strictly a mental battle.

I found myself looking down at my left arm forearm a lot because that’s where I had the Dance Marathon mile motivator tattoo. I just keep telling myself this mile was for someone and that helped me perservere and eventually finish the race.

Thank you to ALL the Hawkeyes that came together to run for Dance Marathon in Chicago this past weekend! FTK forever!

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University of Iowa Chicago Marathon 2017 Dance Marathon FTK stead family children's hospital University of Iowa