Each meeting we have leading up to the marathon, one or two committee members shares their ‘Why I Do This.’ And assuming you – the person who is reading this post – is a friend of mine, you have heard me talk about IUDM a million times over. But do you know why I do this?
I dance because I was told I should. Freshman year, my sister to me join DM. Seriously, this is a reason. She badgered me my entire freshman year to dance and I didn’t do it. I’m still so mad at myself for that. Al – I can’t thank you enough for the pressure you put on me to give this organization a chance. I know it changed your college experience as much has it changed mine. Blood sisters, AXO sisters, and OMAM sisters – we really are almost too similar.
I dance for Matt. My freshman year, a friend of mine passed away. Matt was such a light and his battle with cancer was unexpected and short. He would have been a freshman with us that year. I won’t pretend we were best friends because we weren’t. But Matt’s smile was undeniably warm and I was – I am – happy to call him a friend. The few months that Matt was in the hospital, I didn’t go see him. Another thing I can’t forgive myself for. Matt’s life was a gift to all of those who knew him, and it’s still not fair that he is gone. Since his passing, I’ve sworn to myself I do everything in my power to help those around me who need it. Dance Marathon is my way of doing that – of giving my time to those who deserve it. These kids DESERVE a weekend of laughter and smiles, and I have never regretted doing everything in my power to see that through.
I dance because I believe in miracles. I’ve always said that I believe in miracles, but it wasn’t until recently that I truly understood what a true miracle was. As a part of IUDM, we are told that our time, our fundraising, our efforts – they all help ‘make miracles.’ That’s cool to hear, but really to me, all it meant that I was able to help fund a hospital so that doctors could do what they have been trained to do. That was my version of a ‘miracle.’
Recently, another friend of mine suddenly because very ill. His liver was failing and his brain was swelling and pushing on his spinal cord, which usually leads to loss of all brain activity. The day I went to visit Logan in the hospital in Indy, his family and my best friend Audi had just been told that all hope was lost. His pupils weren’t responding to light and the swelling in his brain was so bad that there was no way his brain could be undamaged. He was a vegetable. The doctors told us they would give it 24 hours and then they would pull the plug. Logan would be gone.
As Audi and I drove home that night, we talked about how we wouldn’t give up hope. How we would keep praying for a miracle. And that’s exactly what we got. The next day, a spark of hope came with the reduction of Logan’s temperature and of the swelling in his brain. They decided to wait another day until the final decision was made. Day after day, Logan regained strength. Last week, I watched Audi FaceTime Logan and his dad, with Logan nodding his head to certain questions. A few days after that, he was able to breathe and speak on his own. The nurses at the hospital said they had never seen anything like his recovery. That is was unheard of for him to have no brain damage. The doctors and nurses would call in on their days off to check on his progress – amazed at each new success.
So now I understand what a miracle truly is. And I’ve never been more proud to say that I help make miracles possible.
I dance because of my family. I’m not talking about my biological family, although I am so very grateful for the support they’ve afforded me these past few years. I am talking about the family I have made on the IUDM Morale Committee. These people leave me speechless every single day with their compassion for the Riley kids and their drive to do more.
I’m a firm believer in being big-hearted. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Life can be rough and people can hurt. But this committee makes being big-hearted looks like it’s the easiest thing in the world. They just love. They give and demonstrate and show love every hour of every day, no matter how they are feeling. Our committee is built on this love, and it causes us to have an unbreakable bond.
So to my OMAM fam –
You have changed my life forever. I will never be able to thank you for the joy you have given me, the passion you’ve helped me believe can exist, and the laughs I have every single day. When I was younger, we learned about poetry in one of my classes. I as a writer, I soaked it in. The poem below has always been my favorite (although I have removed a few sentiments to make it more applicable), but now it holds a different meaning because it summarizes the relationship I have built with you all over the past two years. I carry each and every one of your hearts with me every day. And I will forever. Always Morale.
I am never without it; anywhere I go, you go, my dear.
And whatever is done by only me is your doing.
I fear no fate, because you are my fate.
I want no world, for you are my world.
And it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant,
and whatever a sun will always sing is you.Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root, and the bud of the bud,
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life,
which grows higher than the soul can hope or the mind can hide,
and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart.I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.