The People of Balance 180: The Grow Family

Allison Grow is a physician and a parent. She has been a part of Balance 180 for the last seven years and is on the board of directors. Allison’s children, Isabelle and Daniel, do gymnastics at Balance 180, and she wants to share her experience.

“I have two children, and talk about 180 degrees apart. They could not be more different. My 12 year old son, Daniel, is a straight A student and an enthusiastic athlete, playing football and soccer year round. He learns things so fast that he’s usually got the answer before I’ve finished reading the question.

My 14 year old daughter Isabelle had a prenatal brain injury and is mentally handicapped. She was delayed reaching every single developmental milestone, and there are plenty she will probably never reach.

What my kids have in common is Balance 180.

My son practices gymnastics because he realized it would supercharge his agility and core strength on the football field, and he just really likes doing flips.

My daughter started with Balance 180 six years ago and now is on the Alachua County area’s only Special Olympics gymnastics team. She has the least advanced skills of any kid on the team, by far, but let me tell you what she can do because of Balance 180.

When she was about five years old she figured out that you can walk backward as well as forward. I have this vivid memory of her taking off walking backwards down Jacksonville Beach; I had to chase her and turn her around the other way to keep her from disappearing backwards over the horizon. Now she can walk backwards on a balance beam, without looking.

Some of Isabelle’s friends are her Special Olympics teammates. She knows what it means to have teammates because of Balance 180. There are kids with cerebral palsy, kids with autism spectrum disorders, kids with Downs and other genetic syndromes, and kids like Isabelle whose difficulties don’t have a name. There is also a whole boatload of typical kids, who know how to reach out and help kids like Isabelle because they spend time at Balance 180.”

Allison mentioned that being at Balance 180 has encouraged Isabelle to learn use her iPad to look up songs that are incorporated into the classes as well as look up pictures of the friends and volunteer buddies she has met at gymnastics. She also pointed out that Isabelle will talk about Balance 180’s three weeks of summer camp which includes gymnastics, crafts, games, dancing, and special guests, long beyond when the program finishes. Isabelle has a knack for names, and recalls the names of her teammates and the coaches and volunteers who she has trained with over the years.

We are honored to have the opportunity to train Isabelle and Daniel, and enjoy getting to learn how to best tailor our approach to their unique learning styles and abilities. Thank you, Allison for sharing your experience with Balance 180 and for allowing us to work with your awesome children.

A Kid’s Guide to Summer

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, so we wanted to know what our athletes were most looking forward to this summer! From family vacations to beach days to grandma’s house, sounds like our athletes have tons of fun ahead of them!

Written by Jillian Tartt

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dance Marathon with Jake Dube

This weekend Balance 180 had the honor of hosting a family fun day for Dance Marathon at UF. The event featured food, laughter, gymnastics and overall just a great time. Now, this event got us thinking, who are the kind and thoughtful college students behind Dance Marathon? We went on a mission to learn more about Dance Marathon and as it turns out, we knew very little and what we thought we knew, in fact, turned out to be myths. So, to establish fact from fiction, we interviewed Family Relations Overall Director, Jake Dube, and wow were we impressed. Let’s put your knowledge to the test. Readers, fact or fiction? 

1. Dance Marathon is just one event a year.

FICTION! Dance Marathon is a community and a movement uniting students all across the nation as they work together to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Families and members are paired together as they attend family fun nights, fundraising activities and work to better the lives of our local children.

2. Only a portion of the money raised goes to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. 

FICTION! 100% of the money Dance Marathon raises goes to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. 48% goes to research, 10% goes to education and 42% goes to patient care. 

3. Dance Marathon is only made up of Greek Organizations.

FICTION again! In fact, most of the organizations do not have any Greek affiliations.

4. Dance Marathon has raised 15.2 million dollars since its creation in 1995, 23 years ago.

FACT! Let’s take a second to fully comprehend that number. 15.2 MILLION dollars, all towards research, education and patient care. What an incredible accomplishment, and from what I hear, Dance Marathon is just getting started. 

5. Dance Marathon at UF is okay at fundraising 

FICTION! Just OKAY? They are better than okay! Dance Marathon at UF is the NUMBER 2 fundraising university in the nation! Can I get a Go Gators?

6. Dance Marathon has an App

Well technically FACT, but more accurately Dance Marathon has two apps! One is DM at UF and the other is called Miracle Network Dance Marathon. Both are incredible, don’t believe me? Download them for yourself!

7. One person creates the famous line dance. 

FICTION! There is an entire morale team that contributes to the creation of a 6-minute dance that everyone learns. Every person at Dance Marathon events dances this hilarious dance together and a sense of unity is felt throughout the crowd.  

8. Dance Marathon at UF has danced over 600 hours in the past 23 years. 

FACT! DM at UF has danced a total of 678 hours since its creation. That’s over 28 full days of dancing. 

9. Dance Marathon is completely student-run. 

FACT, every single member of Dance Marathon is a student. A young person who has decided to be a part of an organization to better the lives of children who are sick. Together, students have raised millions of dollars and they have improved countless lives in the process.  

10. Balance 180 had an incredible time hosting a family fun day for Dance Marathon UF and their Miracle Families. 

FACT! This is truer than true. Thank you, everyone, for hanging out with us. We had a blast and hope you did too!

The University of Florida is one of the Founding Five Universities of Dance Marathon, and they keep dominating with their fundraising. An organization formed by all students has made an everlasting impact on not only the lives of children in our local community or our state, but in conjunction with the hundreds of other university Dance Marathon teams, on the lives of children across the nation. So again, we say “thank you” to our friends at Dance Marathon at UF and across the nation for inspiring us to make a difference “For the Kids.” 


Written by Julie Walter.