Thief River Falls dance team performs one final dance for teammate's dad battling terminal brain cancer

Daughter's dance team performs one final dance for dad battling terminal brain cancer
Fifteen-year-old McKenzie Miller and several other young dancers put on a final performance to the song "From Now On" for her father, Jason Miller. WDAY file photo

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — On a hot sunny afternoon, the Just for Kix Dance Team in Thief River Falls was practicing on a local tennis court, because their studio is closed due to the coronavirus.

"They got right back into things," said dance instructor Maureen Price.

For dancers like 15-year-old McKenzie Miller, it's just good to dance again. She hasn't danced with her team since the first weekend in March.

For McKenzie, dancing has been part of her life since she was three. These days, dancing has become an even bigger part of her life.

Daughter's dance team performs one final dance for dad battling terminal brain cancer


"It's somewhere I can go when I'm struggling, I wanted to dance for him one more time," she said referring to her father, Jason Miller.

Jason has terminal brain cancer.

"I'm not giving up my fight. I've been fighting for 15 months and I'm not about to give up. She's so dedicated to dance it makes me proud to be her dad," Jason said.

Two weeks ago, during the team's Spring Banquet via Zoom, Jason made a special request to his daughter and the team.

"I need to see you dance one more time. I don't care if it's on a sidewalk in front of my house," he recalled.

With doctors giving Jason only a few more weeks to live, and no end in sight for coronavirus restrictions, McKenzie's worst fear was she wouldn't get a chance to dance for her father.

"He would never get to see me dance again," she said.

Whether it was a local performance, or hours away, Jason has always been there to watch his little girl.


"Just her dancing, put her passion into it. She loves it," he explained.

"He is the epitome of a dance dad, he is at every single one of our performances," McKenzie said. "He is driving seven, eight hours for a two-minute dance, and he loves every minute of it."

That's why the dance family decided to put together one final performance to the song "From Now On" from the blockbuster movie "The Greatest Showman."

"In the movie, the main character Hugh Jackman realizes at the end what is most important in life, and it is family," said Price.

For the first time, Jason finally had the best seat in the house: front and center for a show just for him.

"All the dance parents who put their time into this, brought their kids into town for something like this," Jason said.

Jason's next goal is to celebrate McKenzie's sweet 16 on July 8, but McKenzie said she knows her dad will forever be out there watching over her.

"I know his presence will always be there," she said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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