This past weekend, I travelled to Columbus, Ohio for DMLC 2016. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what that stands for, it is Dance Marathon Leadership Conference.
The Ohio union was packed with over 700 student leaders from over 150 universities around the US and Canada. It was such a moving experience that truly inspired me in numerous ways. It strengthened all the reasons why I devote my time to such a worthy cause.
One of the things that really struck a chord with me this weekend was how little the general public knows about Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Dance Marathon. So, I am taking it upon myself to educate as many people as I can while supporting the cause I love so much. Here are the things you should know:
1. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (or CMN Hospitals for short) is a charity.
Unlike other Children's charities, CMN Hospitals raises money for LOCAL kids. This means that your donations don't just have a direct impact on kids, but also a direct impact on your community. Chances are, your local children's hospital is part of CMN. In addition, donations and support for CMN provides programs to children that aren't provided by Medicaid or private insurance programs. So without the money you give, the care that children receive would literally be non-existent. According to the CMN Hospitals website, "These donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible."
2. Dance Marathon is a movement.
Colleges, universities, and now even high schools all throughout North America are hosting Dance Marathons. I remember though, when my mom at first thought "Dance Marathon" was just something for fun. But in reality, it helps raise crucial funds for CMN Hospitals. There are over 350 DM programs in North America, one million participants and over 200,000 student dancers, and the number keeps growing. Programs in these schools will raise money year-round and the "big event" is a celebration of all their hard work. Most of the fundraising even occurs during the big event!
3. You don't have to like dancing to attend a Dance Marathon.
Many things happen at Dance Marathon big events. You get to hear personal stories from "Miracle Kids," or local kids that have been helped by your local CMN Hospital. There are games, activities and lots of food. Many Dance Marathons even include a competitive component to it so their dancers are even more motivated! Essentially, the whole point is that you don't sit throughout the event. As our school has said in the past "sitting is quitting," and even if dancing is a large component of the event, it is so fun! Plus, when you are dancing for all the kids that can't, you'd be amazed how much you will enjoy it.
4. "FTK" means For The Kids.
The whole reason why we stand and dance for those long hours, the whole reason while we fundraise and annoy everyone with our DonorDrive links on Facebook, the whole reason we dress like mad people and deck out in everything plastered with FTK is so we can make the lives of children with illness easier. Whether it is an 8 year old girl with cancer, a 12 year old boy with cerebral palsy, a 16 year old girl who fell into a coma, a 4 year old boy who just became really ill, or a brand new little baby born 10 weeks early, we dance For The Kids. Every 62 seconds a child enters a CMN hospital, and we won't stop dancing until there are no more kids in hospitals. After all, we are one generation fighting for the next.
5. Dance Marathon was created for a very unique reason.
In 1991, Indiana University held the first Dance Marathon in honor of Ryan White. Ryan White was supposed to attend IU that same year, but passed from AIDS due to a bad blood transfusion. Ryan battled his whole life against adversity, as little was known about HIV/AIDS during his lifetime. He was even expelled from his middle school. But, his close friends set out to continue the awareness he tried to spread, and in so doing started a movement to help kids facing adversity and illness everywhere. See the story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcmsr_eIEJM
6. Any amount you donate or fundraise helps.
Many people are afraid to donate because they are afraid they can't afford it, but even a single dollar will go to help kids be kids again. During DMLC this past weekend, our advisor sat with us. She told us about a story, a current patient at Mercy Children's, my local CMN hospital. A preemie was born under a pound. Her handprints were smaller than a single quarter. She told us at that moment, that it is a great reminder that every single quarter we raise has a purpose. Every quarter you donate can have a huge impact on a child's life. So, get out there and donate! Even if it is just a quarter.
I hope all of you have learned a little bit about CMN, DM and what we aim to do. It is my hope that you will all find the passion I have for this
cause movement. It may not be now. It may not be until you attend your first DM. It may not be until you read/hear your first miracle story. It might not even be until you know a child who has been treated at your CMN Hospital. But, hopefully you will choose to raise money. Hopefully you will choose to join me in ending all childhood illness or injury. Hopefully you will help kids just be kids. Hopefully, you will join the movement, too.
FTK all DM day!