Michaela Dohleman, portraitLoras College Dance Marathon
Hometown: Pontiac, Illinois

How and when did you first become involved with UI Stead Family Children's Hospital?
I first became involved with University of Iowa Stead Family’s Children Hospital when I joined Loras College Dance Marathon my freshman year. As a registered dancer, I first went to the hospital for a play date during that year. I remember not only getting to know other Dance Marathon members, but getting to meet some of the kids in the hospital. Having names and faces to match all the stories I’ve heard in Dance Marathon really ignited my passion for the cause.
Why do you choose to give your time to support UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital?
My twin sister and I were born perfectly healthy 21 years ago. She was my first friend and has always been my best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without her or how different our lives would have been if we both weren’t born healthy. It has been through my Dance Marathon experience that I have realized that not all children are fortunate enough to have happy, healthy childhoods—especially twins. I spend so much of my time supporting the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital because I want every set of twins to experience a happy and healthy childhood with their lifelong best friend.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about the children’s hospital?
The children’s hospital is so much more than a building. Within those walls, there have been tears of hope and tears of mourning. There have been first hugs and kisses, and final goodbyes. These rooms in the hospital are more than just patient rooms; they are bedrooms, classrooms, movie theaters, and living rooms. It has seen birthdays, holidays, and first days of summer that each bring a different sense of anticipation. Until people realize that those four walls have to be so much for the patients, it is hard to understand why people work so incredibly hard to make it more than a hospital. It is more than a hospital because it has to be.
How has Dance Marathon impacted your life?
Dance Marathon has impacted my life in more ways and far greater than I can even put into words. One of the greatest ways is that it has given me authentic, real-life experience. I’ve learned that big dreams don’t come true overnight. It’s important to set goals that are challenging. Overcoming failure is all part of the process. Working with people isn’t always easy, but relationships with others are the most valuable things in this life. Finally, I know that it is possible to make a difference if you don’t let anyone stand in your way and you never give up.
What is one word that describes our pediatric patients and families?
Courageous