Friday, March 4, 2011

Whole Hearted

Six years ago, I was a freshman in college. (Drops dead from realization of getting old)

On a Friday in April of 2006, one of my very best friends had a dream come true. She, with the help of a bunch of other freshmen who had no clue what we were doing, founded the Dance Marathon at our school (Saint Mary's College).


Dance Marathon is a philanthropic organization by and for college students to raise money for Children's Miracle Network. It hit close to home for me because I was a patient at our local CMN hospital - Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

I was born with a hole in my heart. It wasn't detected until my checkup at a couple days old. I was sent from my doctor's office to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis, the only place in the state that had a a cardiac unit devoted specifically to children.

It ended up that I was just fine. A tiny baby with a broken heart, but essentially fine. I will never forget my yearly visits to Riley - me, an essentially healthy child, in a hospital with children who were definitely not fine. I'll never forget my mom crying in the car once on the way home.

"Mom, why are you crying?"

"You won't understand."

Pouts and glares from preteen Sarah.

"Ok, fine. I'm crying because you're ok. Because you're just fine and all those kids back there, the ones attached to wagons and IV drips and hospital beds - they don't get to leave. They're sick and you're well. It's just a lot to be thankful for."

Fast forward to college.

We were a bunch of girls with a dream... and basically, there was no one to tell us no. A bunch of girls with canning buckets and no free time raised $21,000 for Riley Hospital in a year.

Month by month we added to our fundraising ideas. We sent thousands of letters to friends and family across the United States asking for money. I sealed at least a thousand letters myself.

We met lots of families, too. Families whose lives were forever changed by the amazing doctors at Riley.
Year by year we raised more money and were touched by the stories of more families. In the game of life, I felt like I'd won the lottery.

You see, I came into the world with a broken heart. A heart that wasn't whole.

Dance Marathon gave me the opportunity to give back in a way that I had never really understood before. The chance to give away pieces of my heart to help give kids healthy tomorrows.

This weekend is the 6th Annual Dance Marathon at Saint Mary's College. It will be completely surreal to me to see what was once only a dream continue to be a living, breathing organization. A life force all its own.

Katie was once a committee member on my Public Relations committee, way back when I was a sophomore in college. Now she's the President of what I believe might turn out to be the biggest Marathon to date. Two years ago I was in her shoes... and right now is probably the most nerve-wracking few hours of her life. The stress before everything goes into motion.

Katie, I am so incredibly proud of you for taking hold of the Marathon and keeping it alive in the way we intended for it way back in 2006.

Full of hearts, broken and unbroken.
FTK. (For the Kids.)

That's where I'll be this weekend. Taking a stand for those who can't.

(And if you feel so inclined to donate, click here.)

Any other Dance Marathoners out there??

13 Classy Comments:

Ashley said...

What a fabulous organization! It is so inspiring and such an amazing story =) Thank you for sharing the story of this foundation and your story. =)

Meg said...

Wonderful story and such an inspiring post. Kudos to you all for your hard work and big, open hearts! That's awesome! Sending you good vibes for the Marathon.

PinkSass said...

This is truly amazing. You are wonderful.

The Shabby Princess said...

You just got me all teary!! You're amazing!

Danielle said...

Such an amazing thing to do! Thanks for sharing! : )

Krista said...

This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista said...

Hooray for DANCE MARATHON! This was such a beautiful and touching post, Sarah! Thank you for sharing it with us! I miss my Dance Marathon days sooo much -- those 4 years and endless hours of planning, canning, envelope stuffing, counting, pleading, hoping and scrambling to get everything ready for the big day... ahh, those are my FAVORITE college memories! Have tons of fun this weekend!! This is a HUGE weekend for Dance Marathons across the country and I can't wait to see how St Mary's does! FOR THE KIDS!!

Newlywed Hostess said...

I too was on my college's inaugrial dance marathon exec. board. It was so rewarding! I worked hard for 13 months (we formed one year in advance) to put it together and participate in all of the fundraisers, but it was worth it!

Lacey said...

I went to UNC and Dance Marathon is HUGE there, this year $500,000 was raised! I was involved every year either through dancing or on committees and it is an AMAZING organization. One of the best things I did in undergrad.! FTK!

Meghan said...

I'm the Vice President of my chapter of Phi Mu (Greek organization who's national philanthropy is CMN). Big chapters, and chapters around the country do Danceathon, and this year, we have finally gotten enough stuff organized and off the ground, that we will be having a Danceathon in the fall! We are SO excited and we cannot wait to touch even more lives like you have!

Sweet Simplicity said...

You should be so proud of yourself for helping this get started! It seems like a great event and an even greater cause.

Katie said...

You are SO sweet Sarah! This post is making me cry! You are such a great role model to me and I am so lucky to have been able to learn so much from you! Your passion for Dance Marathon was and always has been so motivating to me! Thanks for all of your love and support! xoxo and FTK!

Naturally Caffeinated Family said...

Wow, that is awesome! Congratulations on an amazing organization and raising so much money for such a great cause. You are such a blessing!

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