I feel like I blinked and September was gone!  As I said in my previous post, we’ve been keeping busy at the Burdorf household.  If you follow me on Instagram, I apologize that you’ve already seen these photos.  Here are just a few from our month.  
Brody, he loves his Hawkeyes.  On this day he had both his football AND basketball jersey on.  Crazy kid!

 Is it terrible I can’t even remember when the UNI vs. ISU game was?!  I think it was in September.  Anyway, we found some cheap tickets and had a date nite. 

Aaron talked to the high school football coach about Brody and his friend, Connor, being the ball boys during the varsity games this year.  He agreed and these two are having a blast!  It rained the night I took this photo, so they were extra busy.  Brody is a sponge and can’t stop talking about practices, players, specific plays, etc.   

 Jenna is once again playing fall softball and I am, once again, coaching.  We moved up to 12U from 10U.  It is quite the switch!  Technically, we could have probably played 10U again, but we weren’t getting anything out it and it wasn’t really challenging the girls.  We’re making progress every week and hanging in there the best we can.  I’m focusing on the mini victories!

 On the weekend of our nephew, Carson’s, birthday in Cherokee, we had to put Bailey down.  Jenna called her our, “Joint Custody Dog,” since she was ours and then we had to give her to my dad because we had too many kids and not enough time for her.  It was the perfect solution because we still got to see her regularly.

Bailey was 13.5 years old and she went downhill pretty quickly.  She started having seizures Friday night and by Saturday afternoon it was just bad.  We called the vet and had her put down.  It’s always sad to lose a member of your family and Bailey was just the best.  We will miss her.

 Blurry cousin pic.  SO. MANY.  BOYS. 

 Despite poor Bailey, we did have fun.  I love my family.

 Don’t you think coffee just tastes better when you drink it with your mom?  Yes, so do I!

 We did a 4K for the kids to support dance marathon.  Blake didn’t want anything to do with it, so Aaron stayed with him.  Brody and Bowen are little running rock stars and Jenna is pretty much her mother’s daughter. Ha!  Running’s not our thing…

 Anyway, it was a beautiful Sunday morning for it and we got free pancakes afterwards!  Good motivation for sure.

 Sunsets are my love language.  I will chase them down to take pictures of them at any time.  My family knows this.  I took this one on the way to a volleyball game.  I stopped right in the middle of the road and I didn’t really care.  Just breathtaking….

 Don’t you love fall?  More crockpot recipes in my life.  This was a no boil mac and cheese recipe that was a huge hit with the family.

 In addition to Jenna and Brody taking piano lessons, Jenna is in full swing with her first year of band.  She’s playing the trombone and the nice thing about that is Aaron and I can help her.  I have no idea what I’d do if she played the clarinet or French horn.  She seems to like it so far!

 This weather is something I’m not taking for granted!  Absolutely beautiful.  We’re still wearing shorts in September and October.  Say whaaaat?!  Bowen tried to get across all three of the monkey bar stations at the playground and came up short every time. 

 Technically, this photo happened in October.  Yesterday our elementary participated in the Live Healthy Iowa walk and I went to take photos for the paper.  Always a job perk is getting to see my kiddos! 

They crack me up.  Jenna comes up and gives me a hug.  Brody’s friends usually have to point me out to him.  Bowen ignored me.  Blake smiled, but wouldn’t come talk to me.  Thank you children for your love – haha. 

 Here’s to October, my favorite month of the year.  All things apple and pumpkin.  More coffee and tea.  A chill in the air.  Sweatshirts.  Cozy socks.  Watching football.  Can’t wait!

Iowa State’s Dance Marathon was at the end of January.  Without a doubt, it is our absolute favorite day of the year!  At the beginning of the week we had to start counting down how many “sleeps” we had left until the big day.
Dance Marathon is neither a dance nor a marathon, but a celebrate of LIFE!  For 12 hours, these students stand “for the kids” and raise money for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  This year, they raised over $362,000!  That does so much good for families just like ours. 

 This year, I thought I’d do something different for my post.  I thought I would ask everybody in the family what their two favorite things were about dM.  Here goes….

Jenna – 1. The morale dance!  Everybody learns it at the beginning of the day and it is done at the top of every hour. 
2. Playing laser tag and doing the inflatables.

 Brody – 1. Playing with the college kids
              2. Power hour – this is the last hour of dancing.  There are glow sticks and tons of dancing and it is CRA.ZY.  I’m with Brody, it’s awesome!

 3. Blake – 1. Hanging out with Nathan (our new family contact) and his girlfriend, Becca.
                  2. The army inflatables

4. Bowen – 1. The morale dance (you can you you tube this to see what I’m talking about).
                   2. The game room (see above and below).

5. Aaron –  1. The hypnotist
                  2. Seeing the “reveal” for the first time this year!  That was at the very end when they let everybody know how much money was raised.

I’m probably going to list more than two because I’m the blogger, so I can make my own rules. 🙂
 6. Jamie –  1. Power Hour
                   2. Seeing all the dM alumni
                   3. Connecting with other families (there are a few moms I’ve become close to and we love to catch-up).
                   4. Hearing other miracle kids’ stories
                   5. Having the Steph and family with us. It means so much to us that they are now part of our family.

                     6. And this is my favorite, hands-down….
Last year and this year we had the honor and privilege to share the last family story of the night.  It’s a love of pressure because everybody’s tired and you’re supposed to be super motivational.  I don’t talk, Aaron talks.  The whole day I harass him with suggestions like, “You should talk about this…” Or, “Make sure you don’t forget to say something about that….”  I make him nuts.  I know I do.  🙂

Here’s the thing though about Aaron.  He nails that speech.  I mean, he hits a home run out of the park.  He has the college kids laughing and crying and cheering.  I am so, so proud of him how he can convey our story to these dancers.  
One funny he told during the speech I have to share.  He was talking about me carrying the twins 37 weeks and then being induced.  He said both twins were good-sized, 7 lbs. apiece.  Aaron then proceeded to walk over and high-five me…. 🙂 🙂  

Another year over and more memories made.  More funds raised for a cause near and dear to our hears.  Thank you dancers for inspiring me.  Thank you families for sharing your stories of hope.  The Burdorfs feel so incredibly blessed to be part of this amazing thing called Iowa State’s Dance Marathon!
Today is National Dance Marathon Day!!!

 For those of you that don’t know, dance marathons around the country raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  Here in Iowa, that hospital is the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. 

We became affiliated with Iowa State’s Dance Marathon when our family friend, Emily Morgan, came over one night and asked us if we would like to be a “miracle family” and be part of dance marathon.  We said, of course!  After she left, Aaron and I looked at each other and said, “What’s dance marathon?”

 Dance marathon is neither a dance nor a marathon, but a celebration of life!  It’s college students who raise money and then in Iowa State’s case, spend one day in January standing for the kids.  That’s right, no sitting.  There is dancing, there are games, there are stories, there is fun and there are tears.  Why do the students stand?  Look at that photo below.  For so, so many reasons. 

I always like to say that of all the stuff we do and have done because of Blake’s kidney disease, dance marathon is the best thing that we are apart of.  


 These college kids.  We do events with them throughout the year.  They come to our house and play with our kids.  Some of them have even baby-sat.  A whole bunch of them came over to give Aaron and I a date night right before Blake’s transplant.  It’s things like that that just amaze me. 

 We have had the best family contacts.  I know, I’m bias, but we have loved all of them!


 To any of you dMers reading this:  I wish I could give you all a big hug and tell you thank you.  Thank you for making a difference.  Thank you for your big hearts.  Thank you for your passion.  Thank you for being so good to our family. You think the miracle families are inspiring?  Guess what?  We’re inspired by YOU!

We made our annual trip to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday.  Yes, the first Saturday of the fair.  I know, it is a crazy day to go, but it was the day the Iowa State Dance Marathon picked to go too, so there we were.  We got to hang out with our new family contact, Nathan.  We had Alexandra for two years in a row (loved her!) and got to know her really well.  Now, we have Nathan and we get to learn all about him.  This is the second time we’ve hung out and I have to say, we haven’t had a bad family contact yet and I don’t think we’re going to start now. 😉

I did not see Hillary Clinton.  I did not see Donald Trump, although we did see his helicopter flying around the fairgrounds.  I did not see Rick Santorum.  I did get to hear (not see, it was too crowded) Bernie Sanders speak on the soapbox.  We happened to be walking by and since I had never heard anybody do the soapbox thing and had only seen it on the news, I insisted we stay.
One thing is for sure, it was quite a fired up crowd.  There were literally a thousand or more people surrounding Sanders.  I just thought to myself, this is why I love Iowa.  All these candidates coming to our fair, speaking, shaking hands, sweating their backsides off and eating food on a stick, it’s so unique and kind of awesome.
We never make it to everything we want to make it to in one day because of little legs.  The twins did the best they could, but according to my fitbit, I walked approximately 11,000 steps at the fair and that’s asking a lot for a pair of four year olds.  
We always love to see the butter cow, eat a corn dog, drink some lemonade, get our Hawkeye football poster, climb in and out all the John Deere equipment, go through the little hands on the farm exhibit, see the baby animals, ride Ye Olde Mill, cast our kernel and walk through all the animal barns.
Can I also just say that I had never gone to the State Fair until I was 24 years old and pregnant with Jenna.  Crazy, right?  You NW Iowans feel me on this I’ll bet, when I say we always went to the Clay County Fair and NOT the Iowa State Fair.  It was closer and it was the Clay County Fair! Anyway, I’m so glad I went, because I look forward to it every summer. 

 One thing that was new this year?  The University of Iowa Organ Transplant Center was there.  That was pretty neat.  They recently just did their 5,000th organ transplant.  As we know, they do some amazing stuff down there.  We got to see one of our kidney doctors, Dr. Brophy.  He is the man who started the pediatric nephrology department at the University of Iowa.  I am so thankful for that guy!  Blake gave him a hug and I told him it was great to see him outside those hospital walls.

I always have the same feeling when I leave the fair.  Pride.  It always makes me so proud to be from the this great state.  The impact our farmers have on the world, the impact our voters have in the presidential race that all these candidates just flock here, the yummy and inventive food and so much more.  Iowa, I’d say you’re alright, but that’s just the way I see it. 

Ye Old Mill.  Burdorf kiddo FAVE.
TOMORROW is our favorite day of the year – 
Iowa State’s Dance Marathon!
I realized in looking back that I never blogged about last year’s dM.  Probably because Blake was in the PICU and I took the other three.  It was hard to be there without Blake and Aaron.  Blake is the reason we are a part of dance marathon.  I remember thinking, this sucks!  Blake should be able to be there.  But, at the same time I thought, this is why these awesome college students dance for kids like Blake, at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
My biggest memory of dM 2014 was when they announced the families at the beginning.  At the last minute, I talked to Aaron about possibly face-timing with each other and holding up our iPad when we walked through the chaos that is the college students and the start of dM so the students could see Blake’s face via the iPad.  It is a moment I will never forget.  I think if I see a movie reel of my most impactful life moments, this will be in there.
They announced us and up walked Jenna, Brody, Bowen and me holding up the iPad.  I panned the whole audience and the crowd went crazy and got so loud.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Then, from the back I heard a, “We love you Blake!” (it ended up being from one of Aaron’s former students and ballplayers!).  I was crying and as I looked around I saw so many students crying too.  It was just…one of those things.  
Here is last year’s highlights.  If you have time, you may see a few familiar faces in it.  If you watch nothing else, be sure to watch the last 30 seconds. 😉
I have FOUR kiddos (and maybe me too!)  that cannot wait for tomorrow to get here!!!  

DMI first heard about Dance Marathon during Orientation and Destination Iowa State my freshman year, and I was encouraged to register later on in the semester by my academic advisor. I didn’t know a lot about what this organization was, or what it helped, other than students raised money and awareness for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. I was inspired to participate, because ISUDM is Iowa State’s largest student-run philanthropy, and after spending a lot of time in and out of the hospital throughout high school I wanted to give back to kids going through similar experiences. As corny as it sounds, Dance Marathon changed my collegiate career. During my first semester at college, I struggled with severe homesickness. I was 1,100 miles away from home and desperately wanted to transfer back to a school in New England. Dance Marathon helped change that for me. I found a purpose at Iowa State, and more importantly, I found a family. This family has gone beyond the students that participate. The miracle children that we help and their families are my biggest inspiration and motivation. I have watched as our kids show all of us what it truly means to be brave, to be strong, and to love life no matter the obstacles. I have witnessed 1,000+ college kids cheering, chanting and teary eyed as one of our families brought our miracle child via Skype last year when he was in the hospital due to complications of a kidney transplant. I saw students the year before offer to get tested to see if they were a match for that much needed transplant. I had the pleasure and honor of being present for a flash mob proposal of one of miracle families. These experiences, and the friends that I have made through this organization, have inspired me to continue to be involved in Dance Marathon. Three years after joining my freshman year, I am now participating in my fourth Dance Marathon and I am beyond excited to be a member of the Dancer Relations Committee. I am a liaison for my sorority and other members of the ISU campus, leading them through an organization that has impacted my life as well as introduce them to the phenomenal families that we stand for 365 days a year.10580949_795348287183828_2658319134247498536_o I love that Dance Marathon is a year-round movement, and it is impossible for me to pick one favorite part of our organization or the day-of event in January. So here are my top three favorite parts of Dance Marathon (in no particular order): When everyone runs into the Great Hall on the day of event. It was so much fun as a first time dancer, and now as a committee member I love watching others experience it. The family stories throughout the day of event, especially one-on-one time between the various teams and the miracle families. These interactions always help remind me why we stand and are a great morale boost right around when my feet start to hurt. The community. I have made countless friends through Dance Marathon, and it is so much fun to see the teal that represents our organization scattered across campus. I do Dance Marathon for a variety of reasons. It’s a family, a support system, a reason to own a ridiculous amount of teal colored clothing, and overall the highlight of my year. However, at the end of the day, my love and passion for it goes beyond the fact that DM has changed my life and my entire collegiate career. The families that this program helps through the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and specifically the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, are the most incredible people you will ever know. They are the definition of pure strength, faith and love. These children and families did not do anything to face the challenges they have been handed in life, and yet they continue with a megawatt smile from ear to ear. They are absolute heroes.

When did you hear about DM and why did you start getting involved?IMG_0041

I first heard about Dance Marathon my freshman year of high school when I went to visit my sister-in-law at Hope College during their Dance Marathon weekend and she was on their families committee. I had a blast attending their event, meeting the kiddos, and seeing their morale dance. Four years later I was so excited when I stumbled upon the ISUDM table at orientation my freshman year because I couldn’t wait for the chance to participate in Dance Marathon as a dancer on my own! Once I read a Miracle Kids’ story about how he was born premature with a heart defect I knew I had to stay involved and get more involved since I was a preemie myself.

What was your progression through DM?

I was a dancer in 2007 and 2008, a member of the Community Development Committee (now Community and Alumni Outreach) in 2009 and Community Development Director in 2010. Currently I’m serving on the Alumni Board of Advisors.
How has it shaped you?

ISUDM shaped my life into what it is today. Without my involvement in DM I wouldn’t have found a career in non-profit fundraising where I can work for a cause greater than myself, meet amazing volunteers who are so passionate about fighting back and advocating for something that is so personal to them, and rallying a community around a cause and creating a lasting impact on the community members and families that benefit from the dollars we raise. DM has made me want to continue to help others and give back to my community in any way I can.
Where are you now?

I’m currently living in the suburbs of Chicago working as a Relay For Life Specialist with the American Cancer Society.

As our celebration of life quickly approaches, we decided to talk to some of our dancers and see what makes Dance Marathon so special to them! Nina Bernardi, a junior, and currently serving as a member of the Dance Marathon recruitment committee, was sold the first time she participated last year.

CaptureWhat inspired you to do Dance Marathon/how did you first hear about it?

I first heard about it when I was in high school and I came on my campus tour right before the event. I was inspired to do it because the money benefits the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, where I had two of my major surgeries when I was younger. I know first-hand the amazing care they provide and how much they positively impact the lives of kids and families battling serious health problems. It’s my way of paying it forward.

What made you want to stick with it/ what is your role in the organization now?

Right now I am on the Recruitment Committee. When I participated in it for the first time last January, I fell in love with the sense of community that DM has. It wasn’t hard to see the passion behind everyone involved. You are truly part of something “greater than yourself.”

How much did you know about the organization before you participated in it?

Not that much, honestly. I just knew it was filled with really awesome people who were passionate about making a difference, and I wanted to be a part of that.

How has being involved in DM opened your eyes?

In life, it’s easy to get caught up and feel like you are just going through the motions. DM reminds you that there’s a whole big world out there in which everyone has a story. For example, you might think my former accounting professor, Todd Thornock, is just another professor. But his son, Malcolm, is a miracle child for Dance Marathon with stage four Neuroblastoma. There are times when he couldn’t be in class because he’s down at the hospital with his son. It just opens your eyes in the sense that yeah, we all have busy lives and we are all trying to succeed; but don’t forget every single person you meet is dealing, or has dealt with some battle you don’t even know about. I think if people remembered that, there would be a lot more kindness in the world. It’s easy to assume (especially with social media), that everyone else’s lives are perfect. They aren’t. We all have a story to share. That was kind of a tangent, but basically, it opened my eyes to the power of human connection.

What was the most memorable part of the day of event for you?

I would say the talent show. There was a little girl who sang a song to her little sister with an illness, it was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen. So much raw love. Those are the kind of moments that life is made for.

Why should others be a part of DM?

  It will change your life and grow you as a person, what more could you ask for? It’s not just about raising $250 and attending one event in January, it’s about knowing you made a lifelong impact on others.

unnamed (2)When did you hear about DM? I heard about DM in high school. Our National Honor Society group started a mini-marathon when I was an underclassman, and it was actually pretty heavily-influenced by ISUDM because of family connections to members of that year’s executive committee. I got involved then because it was a fun thing to do with friends. Then, when I was a senior, I led the group that organized our high school DM. So I had a few years under my belt when I got to ISU and already knew I would love it. Also, one of my older brothers had leukemia when he was a kid.

What was your progression through DM? If you count high school, then that’s where I started. I was a dancer at ISUDM 2009, then registered but absent for 2010 (I studied abroad that spring). For ISUDM 2011 I was on the Recruitment & Morale committee. After that I was the Electronic Media Director in 2012, followed by unnamed (3)Recruitment & Morale Co-Director in 2013. Now I’m serving on the Alumni Board of Advisors.

How has it shaped you? ISUDM gave me something to be passionate about when I would otherwise have just been sleeping through lectures and playing video games. It connected me to people I like and respect. The families and kiddos, with their instant acceptance and trust, taught me a lot about being a true member of a community. And, at the risk of parroting trite little sayings, DM has instilled in me a lifelong habit of giving.

Where are you now? I’m currently living in Chicago with my girlfriend who I met through ISUDM. I’m a Software Engineer at Workiva.



What is DM? What does it mean? Why are you involved in it? These are all questions people have asked us in the last few days. And here we go with some answers:

DM Stands for Dance Marathon. From just those two words, you could assume we like to dance, like a lot. But Dance Marathon is so much more than dancing, or standing on our feet for 15 hours in January. In fact, dancing has very little to do with what we do. Our main function is to raise money year-round and bring awareness to our cause. We hope that our funds can help support the families and kids served by the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. You might be thinking right now, “What does this have to do with dancing or even marathons?”

Every year we set a goal with the aspiration to fundraise more and reach more people than the year before. Here’s an illustration of how we’ve progressed over the last 18 years:

With this goal in mind , we host events throughout the year to tell the stories of our miracle children and families to the public. We hope that by meeting and engaging with the people and showing them who their dollars directly benefit, they will be encouraged just like all of us to get involved with our mission.

This year we’ve set the bar higher than ever before. We want to raise $1million for University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. For some, that idea sounds crazy and for others it’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to make more than twice the difference in a child’s life. In fact, because so many of you have joined us already, we will be having not one, but two celebrations of life spanning over January 23rd and 24th of 2015.

That said, Dance Marathon is so much more than raising money and dancing, it’s about changing lives, making miracles, and putting ourselves in the shoes of all the kids and parents we support. It’s about the family dinners we attend and the baseball games we watch. It’s about the stories we hear  and the smiles we create.

This week take the time to learn more about Dance Marathon and why we stand. Stay tuned for next Tuesday when we talk to folks who are involved with DM for the very first time and learn about their experience so far.