Schminke Family “Goes the Distance” to Support Childhood Cancer

Many Midwest farmers will be harvesting crops on Oct. 10, 2021, but Kyle and Sarah Schminke of Shellsburg, Iowa, will be running in the 43rd Chicago Marathon. Their goal is to raise awareness about childhood cancer, as well as money for the University of Iowa Dance Marathon. Training is already underway for this father-daughter team, and we’re inviting you to cheer on this Eastern Iowa Latham® dealer.

Family Photo

The Schminke Family

“I knew I wanted to get involved on campus, and I had seen some of my older friends post about the University of Iowa Dance Marathon,” says Sarah, who will begin her junior year this fall at the University of Iowa, majoring in Communications Studies with a minor in Rhetoric and Persuasion. She also is earning an event management certificate.

While many people wouldn’t look forward to running a marathon let alone paying a $1,250 entry fee to serve as a charity runner, the Schminkes are looking forward to running this together.

“It’s important to Sarah, so it’s important to me,” says Kyle, who farms with Sarah at his side. His wife, Kyla, works at the local family practice clinic in Shellsburg. His oldest daughter, Dawne, works for UnityPoint pediatrics as a patient service representative.

“Older people are sometimes critical of the younger generation, but just look at the passion the students like Sarah have for Dance Marathon!” adds Kyle. “When you do selfless acts, you feel better. It motivates you. Sarah understands she has a pretty good life, and we should be thankful for what we have. I’m so impressed by the selflessness, and I’m so excited for Sarah to be doing this.”

This father-daughter team has a goal of finishing the race and raising awareness. They’re confident they can, and they will! Kyle completed Iron Man competitions in 2015 and 2016. Sarah ran track and cross country but tore her ACL during her senior year of high school. She wears a brace when she runs, but she isn’t complaining because many people have it so much worse.

Running Photo

Kyle and Sarah are training for the Chicago Marathon. Their goal is to raise awareness about childhood cancer, as well as money for the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

“I’m not running for me. This is for those kids,” says Sarah. “I don’t care about how much pain I’m in. I’m running for the kids who can’t.”

Kyle and Sarah will be running with a list of 26 names on their arms of children for whom they are running. These are called their “mile motivators.” Sarah knows looking down at the names on her arm will be the motivation she needs to keep running and finish strong.

University of Iowa Dance Marathon

Big Event Feb 2020

Sarah during The Big Event in February 2020.

The University of Iowa Dance Marathon (UIDM) is the university’s largest student-run organization and the third largest Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon of more than 300 such organizations across the United States. It is a year-long endeavor that includes monthly events, including events for families with children fighting childhood cancer, fundraising events and dancer events. Everything leads up to The Big Event, which is held annually in February.

During The Big Event, students raise money by dancing for 24 straight hours. Dance Marathon families share inspiring stories about children who have battled cancer and won, explains Sarah. Kids who lost their courageous battle are remembered Dancing in Our Hearts.

“During The Big Event my freshman year, I remember texting my mom, ‘My feet hurt so bad. Why am I doing this?’ My mom replied, ‘You only have 24 hours of pain, but those kids may have a lifetime of pain. There is a reason to everything you’re doing.’ That’s the motivation I needed to keep going that night and to remain involved in this event. I want to do what I can to help families affected by childhood cancer.”

The 2021 Big Event, which was held virtually, raised $1.4 million for kids and families. While that is certainly a sizable amount of money, it is much lower than the amount the University of Iowa Dance Marathon has raised annually in recent years. The UIDM raised $2 million in 2015 and $3 million in 2018.

Virtual Big Event Feb 2021

Sarah during The Big Event in February 2021.

The UIDM has pledged $5 million to the 11th floor of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital that was named the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center. (The 11th floor is the one that gets “the wave” during University of Iowa home football games.) This student-run organization also has pledged $2 million to establish the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Chair in Pediatric Oncology, Clinical and translational Research. In addition, UIDM gives $5,000 to each family who loses a child to cancer to help cover funeral expenses.

“The more I learned about Dance Marathon, the more I fell in love with this organization,” says Sarah, who raised more than $500 as a dancer during her first event in 2020. She served on the Public Relations Committee for the 2021 year and raised more than $4,000. Sarah was selected to serve as Director of Public Relations for the 2022 Big Event. Her goal is to raise more than $4,000 again this year.

We will be sharing updates from Sarah and Kyle’s marathon training journey. If you would like to help contribute to their fundraising efforts, here’s a link to Sarah’s donation page for The Big Event.

Screen Shot 2021 06 10 at 7.44.10 AM

Chart of UIDM donation distribution.

Today Sarah is sharing with us her favorite recipe for Monster Energy Balls, which provide quick energy or help her refuel after a workout. #DYK chocolate milk is another great way to refuel after a workout? Chocolate milk has twice the carbohydrates and protein content as white milk, water and other sports drinks? Plus, high water content of chocolate milk helps prevent dehydration. Go ahead and raise a glass in salute of America’s dairy producers during June Dairy Month!

This recipe also sounds perfect for busy farm families, as well as for kids who need some extra protein before summer activities.

Monster Cookie Energy Balls

Recipe by Together as Family - Jessica

36 balls
  • Prep 15 minutes


  • 2 ½ cups quick oats
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter not all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini m&m's


  • Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or a handheld mixer to combine together. I find that using a hand mixer is the easiest way to combine the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Shape into balls, about 1" in size, and place on a plate or Tupperware type container.* Recipe yields 36 energy balls when shaped into a small 1-inch sized ball.
  • You can eat right away OR refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. I love these cold straight from the fridge.
  • Store energy balls in a covered container in the fridge.


Recipe courtesy of Together as Family