Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has always been an important organization in my life. My little brother, Kyle, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, making him spend a lot of time at the hospital. CMNH helped our family pay for the hospital bills, therapy, special equipment, and numerous things that insurance did not cover. Not only did we receive financial help, but CMNH also supported us emotionally.
When I was in high school I found out about something called Dance Marathon. It is this amazing event held by colleges and universities around the country. The idea is that dancers raise money for a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and then dance for anywhere from six to 48 hours depending on the school. I knew that I wanted to be involved with this amazing organization when I went to college. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait that long. A local school, Missouri State University, decided to hold what is known as a “Mini DM” with the high schools. Along with members of the MSU Dance Bear-a-thon and other high school students we were able to hold the first Mini Dance Marathon for all of the high school students in Springfield.
In April of 2010, my world came crashing down when my brother passed away at the age of 11. Kyle’s death was unexpected but in the end we were happy because he had lived a happy life and spread that happiness to everyone he met. When we were told about his disorder, doctors said they did not know how long he would live. We were thankful for the 11 years that we had with him and very thankful that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals had done so much to make those 11 years possible.
When I arrived at MU in the fall of 2011, I was thrilled to learn about Mizzou Dance Marathon. I was determined to be a part of an organization on campus that did so much for kids like my little brother. It was my way of giving back and remembering my brother. I also joined Phi Mu Sorority, whose philanthropy is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I wanted to tell my brother’s story to as many people as possible and encourage them to invest not only time but also money into a cause that meant everything to me.
When the main event was happening in March, I already raised around $1,000. That was just the beginning. I knew that I wanted to be more involved. This fall I became a member of Mizzou Dance Marathon’s steering committee and was welcomed into a family full of people who wanted to help kids like my brother. This year dancers can sign up under a team for one of our miracle children that the money will benefit. Even though my brother passed away, everyone agreed that it would be a great idea to have a team for him.
This year, Mizzou Dance Marathon is making sure that the steering committee, morale captains and dancers have a personal connection to the kids and families. We host events for our families to attend so that we can strengthen our bond, as well as attend the kid’s events such as flag football games. My parents have made it to almost every event we hold for our hosted family, despite six-hour round-trip drive they have to make to be here. At first it was hard for them to see all of the miracles kids with smiles on their faces just like my brother, but it got better. They, too, believed in giving back. After the first event my father told me, “Even though this is hard for us, I think it has made these parents realize that they don’t have to stop giving back and being a part of this if their child passes away.”
Strength is something that my family is known to have, especially me who has always held down the family in hard times. As a thank you to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we are doing what we can to spread that strength not only to families, but also to members of Mizzou Dance Marathon. Everything the families go through and all of the time Mizzou DM puts in is all worth it when the kids laugh and smile. Everything we do is for the kids. That phrase has become Mizzou DM’s slogan and is what keeps us going. FTK can be found anywhere you see Dance Marathon.
This year the organization is going above and beyond. We are surpassing our original goals for the year and the new ones we have made a long the way. Thanks to everyone’s hard work and the heart of people in the Columbia community we were able to write the MU Children’s Hospital a $15,000 check. The hospital wasn’t expecting that check until after the main event on March 9, but it is allowing the hospital to start a new program next month rather than in April. The program is something that will be solely funded by Mizzou Dance Marathon and provides two teachers at the hospital to ensure that kids stay up to date on schoolwork and learning during long stays in the hospital.
This week is Mizzou DM’s recruitment week. We are hosting events all day long, every day. During this week, people can sign up for the event at our tables for $10, which is $5 off of the regular registration price. There are also chances to win prizes every day, so look out for those on the Mizzou Dance Marathon’s Facebook and Twitter. To find out more information about the organization and what we do you can visit the website at www.dancemarathon.missouri.edu.
Come to the following events to support an amazing cause and join our DM family, what we like to call our “DMamily”:
Monday, November 5:
- 7:30am – 10:00am: Free hot chocolate at the corner of Rollins and Tiger Ave, and Speakers Circle
Tuesday, November 6:
- 10:00am – 2pm: Sign the “I Dance Because” wall in Speakers Circle
Wednesday, November 7:
- 10:00am – 2pm: Registration table in the MU Student Center
- 11:50am: Zumba in the grass between Ellis Library and the MU Student Center
Thursday, November 8:
- All Day: Dine and donate at YogoLuv and Shakespeare’s Pizza (bring flyer)
- 10:00am – 2:00pm: Registration table in the MU Student Center
- 11:00pm – 2am: $5 all you can eat pancakes at Tiger Plaza
Friday, November 9:
- All Day: Dine and donate at Red Mango
- 10:00am – 2pm: Registration table in the MU Student Center
- 6:00pm – 9:00pm: DM Rave; Tie-dye “FTK” shirts with the miracle kids at the Plaza 900 amphitheater for $10 each