By Elianna Novitch
Allie Stutting’s journey of leadership and impact in Dance Marathon
After receiving the exciting news last spring that she had been selected to be the Executive Director of Dance Marathon 26, Allie Stutting made the difficult decision to defer her semester of student teaching to fall 2020.
“While this was a financial sacrifice for myself, I knew this decision was best for over 1,000 families who have been impacted by pediatric cancer as well as for the more than 3,000 students involved in University of Iowa Dance Marathon,” Stutting says.
Stutting is a fourth-year student studying Secondary Social Studies Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the University of Iowa College of Education Teacher Education Program. She is originally from Princeton, Iowa, and has been involved in University of Iowa Dance Marathon (UIDM) all four years she has been a UI student.
In her fourth and final year with the organization, Stutting served as the executive director for Dance Marathon 26. They raised a total of $2,879,755.26, which supports pediatric oncology patients and their families at the hospital and advances research.
“I'm a completely different person today than I was a year ago,” Stutting says, “and a lot of that can be credited back to Dance Marathon and the opportunity to serve in this position.”
Stutting says her time with Dance Marathon has greatly impacted her decision to become a teacher.
“Teaching is all about servant leadership and serving your students and serving your future community. Similarly, Dance Marathon is also all about servant leadership, serving students and my community, and serving people that I may never get to meet, but doing it anyway,” Stutting says. “Your choice to advocate for and support others is something that I learned from Dance Marathon that I know I will institute into my future classroom, school, and school district as well.”
Stutting says that UIDM was one of the driving reasons for why she chose to come to the UI. After having directed the North Scott High School Mini Dance Marathon when she was in high school, Stutting knew that she wanted to continue doing more for the mission of Dance Marathon.
During her freshman year at Iowa, Stutting served on the Operations Committee for UIDM where she got to see the inner workings of Dance Marathon and learned how the relentless behind-the-scenes-efforts of students is truly what makes the organization successful.
The following year, she was selected to serve on the Hospital Committee where she volunteered anywhere from four to eight hours a week on the Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center on the 11th floor of Stead Family Children's Hospital. The following year in DM25, Stutting served as one of the Hospital Co-Chairs where she helped oversee Dance Marathon-funded programming in Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
Stutting oversaw the weekly Dance Marathon Diner program, facilitated and organized weekly craft nights with the Child Life staff for all three inpatient units, programmed a monthly “Donuts with Dance Marathon” communal event, hosted a monthly Dance Marathon party, programmed a monthly live TV show called “Lime Time,” and served on the Hospital Liaison Team.
“It was in this position that I fully understood the heartbeat of this organization: the families. I volunteered alongside families who were at various points in their Dance Marathon journeys,” Stutting says. “I met families in Stead getting their four years post treatment checkup, families who had just been diagnosed hours earlier, and families who recently were told their child was entering into palliative care.”
Stutting’s biggest takeaway from her time in Dance Marathon is the strength of the kids fighting pediatric cancer.
“In this position, I got to work with kids battling cancer and kids who have siblings who are battling cancer and to see their resilience, their strength, and their hope in such a dark time is so inspiring for me,” Stutting says. “I think that's the biggest takeaway is that kids are so dang strong, and we have so much to learn from them. And I think this sets me up to be the best teacher that I can be for my future kids.”