College Dance Team Central

Saturday, October 18, 2008

UI Dance Team Walks Against Breast Cancer

UI dance team, and thousands more, walk against breast cancer
Mike McDonald - The Daily Iowan
Full story at

CEDAR RAPIDS - For UI dance team member Michele Tangeman, whose aunt died of ovarian cancer, the Especially for You Race on Sunday had personal significance:

"She was my mom's best friend, and it was really hard for all of us," the sophomore biology major said prior to the event. "I will partially be walking for her."

Under a pink-clouded sky, a crowd gathered before a white banner at 8 a.m., ready to begin.

"On your marks. Get set. Go," the PA system rang out.

And so they went - all 10,089 of them - clad in long-sleeved, navy blue shirts adorned with a pink ribbon.

Among them were 19 members of the UI Dance Team, walking and running in the 18th-annual Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer.

The event raised approximately $300,000 to provide breast-health services for uninsured women in Linn County. Since it began in 1991, Especially for You has generated more than $1 million and served more than 4,000 women.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will contract breast cancer. The disease is expected to kill more than 40,000 women in the United States this year.

UI Dance Team coach Erica Ireland said events such as these allow her squad members to show their colors: black and gold - and pink.

"My girls get so much from the university," the Iowa alumna said. "I think this is a really neat way to give back to the community that's given so much to them."

The dancers are also active participants in an annual show in Cedar Rapids sponsored by a group called Dancers Against Cancer, which raises money for the Especially for You Fund.

Dancers Against Cancer founder Jody Isenhour said she's grateful for the work Ireland and her team have accomplished.

Isenhour, a former dance instructor who couldn't attend the walk, battled and survived cancer three years ago - but lost her hair to chemotherapy.

"Dancers, more than anyone, understand what I went through," she said. "Our hair is part of our costume."

At the UI, two medical experts recently received a three-year, $180,000 grant to study metastasis - the spreading of cancer cells from the primary tumor to other parts of the body. Breast cancer is particularly prone to this, said Frederick Domann, a professor of radiation oncology who mentored grant-recipient Melissa Teoh, a postdoctoral research assistant.

"We need to understand how this process comes about and help prevent it," Domann said.

But Ireland's support comes outside the laboratory.

"Our mission is to go up there and provide spirit for those who are battling breast cancer, in memory of those who have lost the battle and for those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one," she said.

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