After months of fundraising and preparation, May 4th had finally arrived. The last time I checked, it was only February, and I had just begun in my efforts to raise as much money as possible as a first-year participant in DemonTHON, a twenty-four-hour dance marathon supporting Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

As I was a member of my sorority, Delta Gamma’s team, I looked forward to spending my time raising both money and awareness for such a wonderful cause. I figured that I would enjoy my hours simply dancing for the kids, yet I received more from this experience than I could have imagined.

“Tell them how old you are!” exclaimed the mother of Ellie, our team’s designated miracle child. “I am fourteen years old,” Ellie replied enthusiastically.

“Now, tell them what you want to be when you grow up.”

“I want to be a Delta Gamma!” Ellie proudly stated.

Screams of joy arose from every DG in the audience. Before even meeting Ellie, each of the participating students of DemonTHON had the privilege of hearing her share the story of her encounters with Lurie Children’s Hospital on the stage before us. My initial thoughts revolved around how brave this young woman must have been to fearlessly receive treatment for her illness.

If I had been placed in her situation, I would not have known what to do with myself. Yet, seeing her confidently speak about her struggles, as well as the excellent care the hospital has provided with, was truly admirable.

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I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Ellie and her family, as well as having the privilege to dance with her. It was in that moment that I realized my heart had never been fuller of pride and compassion. Being able to interact with young children who have come face-to-face with life-threatening illnesses was remarkable.

I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the life I have been blessed with, and instantly put into perspective that the small problems in my everyday life are insignificant in comparison to what this beautiful young woman has been through at such an early age. Ellie is a fighter, and she taught me that, no matter how severe the situation may be, I too can fight through it, along with everyone else.

I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in DemonTHON, as well as meet Ellie. She is an inspiration to all, and I am proud to know her.

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