Former DM member recalls memories and miracles

Laren Weber and Laren Weber

Karol and Jacob Krawetzke spoke at the Dance Marathon Overall in the Union Ballroom last night and reminded students of the impact DM made in their lives a decade ago as the first miracle family.

Karol said it was really hard to watch her youngest son go through cancer and realize that he might not get the chance to be 16, or might not meet his dream girl.

“When you’re going through the struggles of cancer, you don’t feel like a real family,” she said. ” When we were at DM, we were a family.”

Jacob had muscle cancer when he was seven and became weak from the treatments he received.

He had to spend the majority of his time in his hospital room and could barely lift his head from the pillow, which is hard for a seven- year- old, Karol said.

Through the efforts of the Children’s Miracle Network and DM, the children were given a TV, VCR and Nintendo in their rooms, she said.

Jacob used to play Nintendo games and in his seven-year-old mind, he thought by defeating the game, he was beating the cancer, Karol said.

Jacob, now 16, has beaten the cancer and read a poem last night he wrote called, “How Much You Mean to Me,” to show his respect for the students.

“It’s hard to go out and dance for all those hours and make a difference,” he said. “I have so much respect for them.”

The Krawetzke’s show their appreciation by returning to DM every year.

The family likes to come to DM late at night to rub the dancers’ feet and encourage them, Karol said.

“You have no idea how many lives you are changing,” Karol said to DM participants at last night’s event. “Because of your efforts 10 years ago, my son still stands 10 years later.”

Sam Kuntz, family relations chair for DM, said that this family is an example of the true impact that the organization and the students’ work has on people’s lives in Northwest Ohio.

“The fact that they are still involved in DM shows how much of an impact it really does make on these families’ lives for the long term,” he said. “It’s not just 32 hours, it’s lifelong.”

The courage and the strength of the children and their families exemplify what DM is all about, Kuntz said.

“The miracle families are a personal connection to DM and the dancers and moralers get to know them, which gives them more of a reason for everything they’re doing,” he said. “We receive just as much strength from the miracle family as they do from us.”

Dance Marathon is a weekend where the kids can forget their problems and struggles and feel like a part of something, said Brittany Barhite, public relations chair for the group.

“You see those kids that are suffering and they are still doing well, they still smile, they’re still playful and hopeful,” she said. “They’re the epitome of DM.”

Kuntz said that one of the comments he hears most from families is that DM helps their children feel accepted.

“When their child is at a DM event or at DM itself, they’re not the “bald” kid or the kid in the “wheelchair,” they’re Daniel or Suzzie,” he said. ” They are just themselves.”

When Jacob was a miracle child, the students treated him like a kid, not like a kid with cancer, Karol said.

“Jacob was still a person and we were still people,” she said to students last night. “Because of your efforts, Jacob has less than a one percent chance that the cancer will come back.”