It was an everyday occurrence. Finding some minor detail of my day that I could complain about or wishing that some part of my life was different—until that weekend freshman year that I stood 24 hours for kids that might never get the chance to stand.
I first heard of Dance Marathon from older girls in my sorority and to be honest, I wasn’t immediately interested. It seemed more of a hassle than something that would benefit my life in some way, but boy, was I wrong… I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was an easy 24 hours because it wasn’t. They were some of the most testing times, but it helped to have my whole pledge class there knowing that we were all doing this together. “Nobody ever said life was going to be easy, but it will definitely be worth it”, was the quote I kept repeating in my head the entire time. Yeah, it was hard to stay awake and stand for 24 hours, but it was all worth it For The Kids.
I was raised by amazing parents that taught me great morals and values, but I often find myself taking so many things for granted in my life. The whole journey of Dance Marathon up to this day has made me realize how much I have to be thankful for in my life. It taught me to be thankful that I have the opportunity to go to such an incredible university instead of complaining about the homework I have this weekend. It showed me how lucky I am to have the most supportive family and friends that are here for me during any hard times in my life. Most importantly, it taught me to be thankful for my health. It’s something that we all take for granted without even knowing it.
As I watched these kids and their families get up on stage and tell their stories I knew I wanted some part in this. It is such an incredible feeling being able to give back to people less fortunate than you, especially children. To say it was a life changing weekend is an understatement. I am so honored to be a part of this team and cannot wait to see the outcome of Dance Marathon 2013!
Next time you catch yourself complaining about how much you don’t want to study for your finals or some other insignificant inconvenience , I encourage you think about the kids that would do ANYTHING to be healthy enough to live the life you have. Talk about putting things into perspective.
Over this past semester I’ve really learned what FTK meant and seen what passion everyone involved with Dance Marathon has. When I was encouraged to join DM exec, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was FTK. I’ve always wanted to work with children and had decided that I would work towards becoming a Child Life Specialist at a children’s hospital, but it wasn’t until I got involved with Dance Marathon this year, and then met a young man who has changed my life, that I was 100 percent certain that this is what I wanted to do.
I was first introduced to Josh Rominger earlier this year when a friend of mine started telling me his story. She had grown up with Josh and was looking forward to him coming to visit for the Georgia vs. Carolina football game. For weeks she prepared everyone for it and could not stop talking about how excited he was to visit and how she couldn’t wait for everyone to meet him. Josh was diagnosed with cancer (synovial cell sarcoma) in December of 2011 during his junior year of high school. He had to undergo surgery and as a result of the cancer had his right lung removed and one leg amputated. I was fortunate enough to get to sit in the stadium and watch the game with Josh during his visit, and little did I know that the short amount of time I spent with him that weekend would ultimately change my life. Josh’s outlook on life is so far beyond his years and so inspiring that it’s impossible to not be changed by him. He’s used his amazing sense of humor to help with the difficulty of the situation, and had everyone around him entertained the entire weekend. I was able to get to listen to part of his journey as he shared it with some of us during the game. It was hard for me to even imagine the amount of pain, the rush of emotions, and the strength it took for him and his family to get through all of those times, but yet he still had the most positive outlook and passion for life that I had ever seen. Recently it’s been amazing to see just how many people have been touched by Josh. Whit Merrifield, USC alum and baseball player, recently started a campaign to “Get Josh to the Bowl.” He posted a YouTube video talking about Josh’s story, how it affected his own life, and how he wanted to make sure that Josh and his friends were able to go see Carolina play in the upcoming bowl game. The outpouring of support has been incredible, and I’m so blessed that I’ve been able to spend time with such an incredible young man.
It’s because of stories like Josh’s that I have really become passionate for this amazing organization. I now understand exactly why every team member involved with Dance Marathon is so FTK. FTK isn’t just a phrase or promotional tool; it truly is exactly why we do everything we do. The passion and excitement from Morale and the Exec team are contagious, but until you experience Dance Marathon for yourself and you hear the stories from the Miracle families, it’s hard to see exactly what being FTK is all about. I’m so thankful to everyone involved with DM and can’t wait to make this the best Dance Marathon we’ve ever had at USC!
For Love, For Hope, FOR THE KIDS!
As a freshman I signed up for Dance Marathon having no clue what I’d be getting myself into. Those that know me know that I am definitely not a night owl, so I had no clue how I’d be able to stay awake for 24-hours, more or less stay on my feet. But, Dance Marathon involved two of my favorite thing—kids and helping others—so I figured, why not?
Leading up to day-of, even to the minute of I was dreading the whole standing and staying awake for 24-hours part, but all that changed the minute Morale entered. They came in with so much energy and were so FTK that I knew the next 24-hours were going to be great—no matter how tired I got! The experience got even better each time a new Miracle Family came to share their stories with us. They have experienced something that many of us can only imagine and yet they had such joy in their lives and were so grateful for everything USCDM and Palmetto Health have done for their families. I knew we were making a difference in their lives, but they too were changing mine.
After experiencing Dance Marathon once, I knew I wanted to get involved. I joined the Executive Board this year as Dancer Relations Coordinator and love every minute of it! Being surrounded by people who care about the same things I care about and are working towards a goal is one of the greatest things. As we wrapped up the semester last week for Dance Marathon, I was reminded why I am FTK. Seeing the support the USC community has had for DM this year has been amazing. We’ve all been working so hard this semester to bring the Gamecock family a great DM experience and share our passion with all of you. We hope you’ll join us on March 1 to experience Dance Marathon for yourself.
Today, I challenge you to find something you’re passionate about, whether it is USCDM or not, find it, embrace it, and live it. You can make a difference if you set your mind to it, and you never know, you may get more out of it than you ever imagined.
For love, For hope, and FOR THE KIDS,
Ever since I can remember, my parents have encouraged me to surround myself with people who bring out the best in others. And, while I’ve tried to do so to the best of my ability over the past few years, I never fully understood the importance of this until I joined Dance Marathon. When I signed up to participate in the event as a freshman, I had no idea what I was about to experience. Honestly, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make it through 24 hours without sleeping, let alone sitting down. But, the minute I walked through the doors of Strom, my thoughts began to change. The positive energy was overwhelmingly contagious. I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if this energy will last until the end of the event.” To my surprise, the fervor not only lasted, but continued to grow as it inspired the students throughout the night. For the first time in my life, I realized what an incredible gift it is to make a difference in the lives of others.
Now, two years later, it is hard to imagine my life without Dance Marathon. While the Day-Of event is a truly unforgettable experience, I have learned the most from my time spent with my fellow board members. It is a privilege to witness what such tenacious leaders can accomplish together each and every week. What started as a passion for helping others has evolved into a way of life for all of us. The selfless attitude that circulates among the executive board constantly reminds me of why I am for the kids. For a couple hours a week at our meetings and 24 hours in the spring, my peers push me to look beyond myself and stand for the kids who can’t. In the grand scheme of things, what is 24 hours compared to what the children at Palmetto Health Children’s hospital experience each and every day?
In light of this, it is no surprise that working with Dance Marathon has become the highlight of my week. The positive atmosphere continuously reminds me of the wonderful things that can happen when you surround yourself with those that bring out the best in others. I am so thankful for my time with Dance Marathon and cannot imagine being a part of a more inspiring community.
I was lucky enough to experience Dance Marathon for the first time as a dancer in 2010 with my sorority sisters. I was dreading it all the way up until the week before the event. I felt like at that point, there was nothing I could do anymore, so I minus well just suck it up and make the most of it. At the event, I only surrounded myself by people who were trying to make the most of their experience and it paid off—it was one of the greatest weekends of my life. At the end of the 24 hours, they introduced the Board of Directors, and at that moment, I could see myself on that board. I knew that I wanted to be in the exact same place, on that stage, one year later.
I have been honored to serve in many leadership positions on the USCDM Board of Directors, but this year, I’m lucky enough to serve as the Mini Marathon Director, which is where my passion for this cause has really grown. Mini-Marathons are 6-8 hour mini dance marathons at local high schools. Working with these mini marathons, I am not only able to help the children at the hospital, but I am also able to help high school students develop their passions. Not necessarily only for the cause, but also in their leadership positions. One of the greatest things about Dance Marathon, especially in these high schools, is that it allows students to identify what their strengths are, and how they want to utilize them. Last year, watching these students grow in their leadership skills and love for the cause was one of my favorite USCDM moments. Seeing their faces after flipping a total of over $20,000 was one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced.
This year, we have 2 mini marathons—our returning mini marathon at Cardinal Newman High School, and a new mini marathon at Hammond School. I cannot wait to see what these schools have in store for us this year, all for love, for hope, and for the kids!
Interested in starting a mini marathon at your high school? E-mail Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org!