As I sat there waiting, I had a million thoughts running through my head. What’s going to happen? Will this be as emotionally draining as everyone said it would be? How am I going to get through the next 24 hours?
The minutes ticked by. It was drawing closer to the time where I would have to stand up and I was growing more and more anxious. I started to doubt my ability to get through what I was about to do. I mean, after all, I had never stood for 24 hours, let alone without any sleep.
The first family walked onto the stage. The family was made up of a young boy, a mother and a father. The middle-aged mother started her story about how their 4-year-old son had recently passed away from cancer. While she was telling her story, tears began to well up in her tired eyes. Listening to this story made me angry and sad all at the same time. It was so unfair what this family had been through. It was so unfair this six-year-old boy would never have a chance to play with his younger brother again or that this mother and father would never get to see their child grow up. As she continued telling her story about all the hospital visits and treatments her young and innocent child had gone through, I realized why I was there. I was there to help these families get through the hardest time in their lives. I was there because these kids and families have gone through far more pain then I would ever endure in the next 24 hours. I was there For The Kids.
After the family spoke, a video began to play. In the video there were interviews with the young boy who had passed away. One line that will stick with me forever was the camera guy asking, “Are you afraid?” And the boy responding with, “I was at first, but I’m not anymore.” He wasn’t afraid because of people like myself who were willing to give up their time and comfort to help raise money for kids with cancer. The Family Relations committee made a difference in this young boy’s life by spending time with him and playing with him in the hospital. It made him happy for at least a short period of time. When the video turned off and I wiped away my tears, I knew I could get through the next 24 hours without even one complaint.
As the hours passed and it was reaching dawn, my feet started to ache and my back wanted to give out, but I thought about all the families’ stories and the heartache they’ve been through. I kept my mind and body busy by dancing my hardest throughout the night. Some of my best friends were at my side as well and that made all the difference. We laughed, we cried, and we danced. Those 24 hours may have been the most difficult hours of my life, but it was the best experience I’ve ever had. It inspired me in a way I never knew I could be inspired.
After 23 hours had passed, we started power hour. If someone had asked me a couple years ago, “Do you think you could stand and dance for 23 hours, without a break or sleep, and then dance your hardest the last hour, without stopping?” I would have laughed at them and told them no way. But nowadays, I know exactly what it feels like to do that. You get an adrenaline rush that you had no idea you could get. You think about all of the stories you just heard and you think about the pain those kids have gone through. You’re able to dance and jump harder than you’ve ever danced before. It’s the most amazing and rewarding feeling. After power hour the kids jumped up on stage and revealed the amount we had raised…1.369 million. I couldn’t believe we collegiettes were able to raise that much money in the amount of time we did. It felt more than incredible.
Two years ago when I went to Dance Marathon website and signed up, I said to myself, I guess I’ll try it just this once. Now after two years of dancing, I want a leadership role in the hospital. I want to be as involved with these kids as I can. If I can make a difference in just one child’s life, it will be worth it. Dance Marathon really changed the way I think about life and how precious it can be. You never know what is going to happen in your life, but you can make a difference for someone who has been dealt bad cards. I’ll continue to dance for these kids every year, until there is a cure because cancer doesn’t quit and neither will we.
Visit the Dance Marathon Website now and donate anything you can. It's all FTK!