Dance Marathon helps local family

Ellie Capaldo, a 7 year old cancer survivor.

Dance can be a big part of a little girl's life.

For one Tri-State girl, dancing helped save her life.

Cutting a rug is also cutting out stress for families stricken with pediatric cancer.

"She grabbed her upper legs, and said 'ow daddy, my legs hurt,' and sat back down on the floor, said Nick Capaldo.

That was in July of 2012, and that was the night things changed for the Capaldo family of rural Hancock County. The family took their then 20 month old to the Emergency Room in Keokuk. Several tests were run, including a blood smear. It wasn't long before the doctor came in with the news.

"Look. I really hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. I really think I saw leukemia cells in her blood smear." said Capaldo.

With that, baby Ellie and her mom Amanda took an ambulance ride to Iowa City. Dad followed behind. Early the following week, chemo had started. Fast forward, and Ellie is now 7. She won't be declared in remission until she is off treatment for 5 years. That being said, she is doing wonderfully. So wonderfully, she is looking forward to this weekend's Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa. It's a 24 hour student led marathon.

"We stay up for 24 hours, and you dance all night," said Ellie Capaldo.

It's all in an effort to raise millions of dollars for cancer families at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

"This is the one thing we want to give back to because they've given so much to us," said Ellie's mom, Amanda.

There's no way to explain everything the money from this marathon does for cancer families. Here are a few helps pay for prescriptions at the hospital, gives emotional support to families...for example, a member of the dance squad will come sit with the patient while the parents take a break. Also, patients can get a scholorship, if they decide to go to the University of Iowa.

"The siblings are never left out. If Ellie gets invited to something that is dance marathon related, the siblings are invited too," says Amanda Capaldo.

This is the family's sixth year taking part in the dance marathon.

"It's definitely an emotional time. There are fun're smiling, laughing, and clapping one minute You're crying and wiping your tears the next." said Amanda Capaldo.

Each dancer has to raise a certain amount of money to be eligible to stay up for 24 hours and dance. Families also raise money.

Speaking of the fundraising, the Capaldo family is raising money for the Dance Marathon, which is February second and third.

You can donate online by clicking here.

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