I was six years old when I first entered a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospital. I entered my second Children’s Miracle Network hospital this past week, more than twelve years later, for a different reason.
When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I spent three years of my life in and out of Baystate Medical Center, part of which had a children’s unit that partnered with CMN. Three years is a long time to spend time in the hospital, especially for a child. Children’s Miracle Network made my time there a lot easier. As I was only six, I was not aware of some things CMN did, like fund research and pay for medical equipment, but, I do remember laughing as I biked down the hallways of the hospital on toy bikes, which CMN had provided.
Now that I am 12 years older, I can see all that CMN has done for me, and children like me. Two years ago, I went to my first ever Dance Marathon, at Florida State University, and got to share my story there. After two days there, I knew that when I went to college, I would get involved with Dance Marathon. When I got to Saint Michaels College, I was glad to find that another student already had the same idea, and so a group of college students started the process of creating the college’s first-ever Dance Marathon! The Saint Michael’s College Dance Marathon planning team consists of one sophomore, a few freshmen, and me, also a freshman.
We are now just a few days away, and we are so excited for the big night to come! These past weeks we have created Facebook events, started up fundraising pages, and worked out all the details of planning a Dance Marathon. Each of us on the planning team is so dedicated to this event and to making it as amazing as it could be. On April 17 at 9 p.m., students will gather to “Dance the Knight Away”, as they raise money for such a wonderful organization.
Recently, a group of us who are on the planning committee visited the University of Vermont’s Children’s Hospital for a tour. We were blown away by the facilities, especially the care and dedication of the staff. It was also exciting to see how Children’s Miracle Network worked with the hospital. I was so happy to see children getting the same — maybe even better benefits (because this is ten years down the road from me) than I did. This is why I dance. This is why the whole planning team, and the dancers who go, dance. We dance for the kids.
Ashley Jennings is a student at Saint Michael’s College.