Friday, November 16, 2012

Dance Marathon at UF

26.2 hours. A symbolic marathon amount of time for dancers to be on their feet. 26.2 hours of students standing up for many kids who can not, in a prominent event that brings copious amounts of funds and awareness for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. 26.2 hours for the kids at Shands Hospital for Children. 26.2 hours.

This is Dance Marathon at UF.
In 2012, DM at UF raised over $886,000 for Shands Hospital for Children at UF. That number and showing of dedication is staggering to me, and I look forward to witnessing the unveiling of the product of so much hard work from these University of Florida students when the 19th annual Dance Marathon at UF is held in April. It is always such an amazing fundraiser for Shands.
But to us, Dance Marathon is so much more.

Nate is a "miracle child" for DM. We honestly didn't have a clue what we were getting into when agreeing to join the Dance Marathon miracle families, but I for sure would have never imagined the degree of love we would have for these amazing people who are now a part of our heart. I have read several testimonies about how students' lives were changed by being around the DM miracle kids, but I don't think they can fathom how their lives have also changed our own.
The amount of care and devotion these ambitious and loving students show to our children is simply awe-inspiring. To put into words the emotions we go through while watching these students communicate, play, and pretty much spoil all 3 of our kids is seemingly impossible. To witness several of them trucking off with Nate, backpack in tow and completely uninhibited by his differences, and treating him like a very normal "rough and tough" little boy is unlike anything I can describe. But my favorite thing is watching the growing bond of friendship and love all 3 of the kids have with the DM at UF crew. Yes indeed, every opportunity we have to share with these amazing individuals is a life-changing experience for all of us.
Our family captain is like family to us...kinda literally. She was the CMN intern during radiothon who Nate became instantly close to, and he suddenly proposed to her on the day of radiothon. He introduces her to everyone as his "wife". In fact, he was telling his physical therapist this morning that he had a date with his wife this evening. Insisting on buying his wife a ring, he settled on a red ring pop and popped the question once more with ring in tow. It's pretty special seeing how much he adores Bailey.
We are so thankful to be able to participate in such a wonderful organization that brings so much care and help to our local children's hospital. But more than anything, we are thankful for having met so many incredible people with Dance Marathon at UF. Words don't seem adequate enough to express the impact they have had on our lives.

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