As you probably know from my previous post and my instagram feed, this weekend was UNC Dance Marathon 2015.
Lots of my good friends and fellow Executive Board alumni came to town to help out and to see the event. We went to kick-off on Friday night and watched as the Chair of the UNC Department of Pediatrics and the chancellor of UNC encouraged dancers, as this year’s Executive Board introduced themselves and as all of the students simultaneously stood up to commence their 24-hour stand. It was a proud moment to see all of the work this year’s leaders and committees and to remember the feelings we had at this point last year.
On Saturday, we brunched. We talked, we caught up, we ate delicious food and we loved all of it. We might be scattered around the state and the country, but we fall right back into conversations we left off with the last time we all got together.
We spent the rest of the day at the event, watching the dancers, helping when we could. I could go on and on about how this organization changed my college experience and changed my life, but as I listened to the families and mothers of pediatric patients – one who gave birth to twin babies 3 months early, one who lost a child, one who has a 2-year-old with Down’s Syndrome and leukemia – I was reminded that my life isn’t the one that needs to be changed. I’m not the important one here. This organization helps and changes the lives of all of these patients and their families. That is why we stand. That is why we dance.
The last speaker of the night was the mother of William, the 2-year-old with Down’s Syndrome AND leukemia. She is awesome. I just want to be her friend. She explained to us that, with William’s conditions, people often asked her if he was going to die. Umm, excuse me? That doesn’t seem like the question you ask a mother in that situation. She has a different outlook though.
“We’re all going to die,” she said, “it’s what you do before you die that matters.”
She also explained that, as the mother of a special needs child, she understands that her son, and her life, will never be “normal.” But she looks at that differently too.
“Why would you want to be normal, when you can be EXTRAORDINARY?!,” she asked. “William is extraordinary. YOU ARE EXTRAORDINARY!”
She went on to explain that what Dance Marathon participants do is incredible. These college students stand up to support kids who need it most and for families who need more strength than they can muster and more help than they have.
This year the organization raised $570,561.48 for the patients and families served by UNC Children’s Hospital. These are college students. Doesn’t it make you rethink what you are doing?
I’m so proud of this organization and the wonderful goals it is accomplishing. For the kids, always and always.