For Mike Stanton, just 30 hours at Northwestern but a lifetime in the name of Danny

Mike Stanton, Dannys father and the co-founder of the Danny Did Foundation, spoke to the dancers during Block 1.

Rafi Letzter/Daily Senior Staffer

Mike Stanton, Danny’s father and the co-founder of the Danny Did Foundation, spoke to the dancers during Block 1.

Stephanie Haines, Development Editor

For Mike Stanton, the past 30 hours have been fraught with emotion.

“It’s of course been very emotional,” the co-founder of the Danny Did Foundation said. “We are here because Danny died, but being here is the positive aspect of this and what it will do for the Danny Did Foundation.”

Danny’s father reflected on the experience of NU Dance Marathon 2013, recalling seeing the thousand students pour into the tent. He said he stopped everything and looked at the students, their energy and their commitment. Throughout the past 23 hours, Stanton has stood near backstage with his family, where students have streamed over to attest their faith in the foundation’s cause.

“I have made a lot of friends here,” Stanton said. “Personally this has been so enriching for the family.”

Stanton said he has enjoyed watching his children’s jaws drop at the high-energy atmosphere of DM. On stage or outside the tent, the kids have lit up dancing with the students and making friends, he said. The dancers sang to Johnny Stanton for his 10th birthday Friday, and Stanton said he could feel the genuine energy from the crowd.

Amid the emotion and excitement, Stanton said it is enriching to watch his kids absorb and process the experience in their unique perspective. They have been involved in other fundraising events for the foundation, but Staton said DM has heightened their awareness of its place in the epilepsy realm. Earlier on Saturday, his son Tommy asked Stanton if DM was the best thing about his brother Danny.

“I said, ‘No, the best thing about Danny is that he is your big brother and he loves you,’” Stanton said. “’Dance Marathon is the best thing that happened to the foundation.’ And now they want to be a part of Dance Marathon one day.”

Danny’s dad has not taken any pictures or videos of the event because he said he wants to experience the event fully, and he encourages his kids to do the same.

“I told them, ‘Don’t forget walking through this tunnel into the tent, because this is a huge moment for your life and your brother’s foundation,’” Stanton said.

Other individuals who have been affected by epilepsy have also come to the event. The Danny Did Foundation, Stanton said, has given these individuals more information and support about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. One woman in particular said she came to NUDM to channel her anger after her son died from SUDEP in November.

For Stanton, the journey beyond his son’s death has bounced him between emotional highs and ruts he said are sometimes difficult to overcome. But he also said this experience with NUDM has changed him personally.

“It could help in my healing process,” Stanton said. “I’ve been surrounded by friends and family since the day Danny died, but being surrounded in this experience really makes me look and see that you got to embrace and celebrate (and) at some point let that overtake his death … I’m not saying I’m ready to take that step, but this event has really opened my eyes.”

With a little anxiousness, Stanton said he is really looking forward to the financial reveal at the end of the night. For him, the DM experience is nearly indescribable, but he relates his excitement to childbirth.

“When I think about the end of tonight, I just think about that ‘whoa’ like watching another life begin, can it be?”  Stanton said with a glint of excitement in his eye. “It adds life to the foundation, my life and Danny’s life. And then you just soak it in because it’s here.”

At last, Stanton sat back and speculated on one detail.

“What I want to know,” he said, “is who came up with ‘Dance for Danny’?  Because that is what is going on, and that is everything. It’s all about the life of our little boy.”