Block 5: Actual Marathon

Sophie Mann and Zoe Miller

After a rousing run around Norris University Center and a glimpse of the outdoors for the first time in about 12 hours, dancers came back into the tent for breakfast and student group performances.

Late in the block, the finance committee announced that $449,838 had been raised by the halfway deadline. Organizers also announced a campaign to raise $30,000 in 10 hours, and members of the dance marathon finance committee circulated in the crowd distributing raffle tickets.

Deeva Dance Troupe — which performs a blend of Bollywood, jazz, lyrical and hip hop — kicked off the fifth block. In the last hour, Sarah Buti, a speech-language pathologist at GiGi’s Playhouse, addressed the dancers from the stage. Buti developed the Amina Grace Speech and Language program for Gigi’s Playhouse. The program is designed to help people with Down syndrome improve their language skills.

“In July of 2015 I started a journey that would quickly change my life for the better,” Buti said. “I was offered the opportunity to create a speech-language program for participants with Down syndrome of all ages.”

Buti worked with Maura Cullen and Munawar Ali, who created the program in honor of their daughter Amina, who passed away in 2014.

“They trust me, I trusted them,” Buti said. “From then on we created one of the most successful programs that has ever existed at the Hoffman Estates playhouse. “

Speech and language skills are difficult for people with Down’s syndrome, Buti said. Because of this, speech skills programs like the Amina Grace Speech and Language program are vital.

“(Speech and language skills) are critical life skills needed to express their needs,” Buti said. “The ability to communicate gives people confidence, and I’m so honored that you guys are all here helping us with this critical need.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sophiemmann

Email: zoemiller2[email protected]