[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Victoria De La Rosa” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Tomorrow your life can change in an instant. It can be for the better, or it can turn your entire world upside-down. Some people may understand what I’m talking about and others probably already have turned the page. However, not everyone has that luxury to turn and are forced to face reality head-on. Speaking from experience, this may be the way many patient families from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center live on a day to day basis. We don’t know what will come next, but we know we can strive for a better tomorrow. Ultimately, that is the goal of Quinnipiac University’s Dance Marathon, QTHON; we strive to give others a chance for a better and healthier life.
I began my participation with QTHON during my first year at Quinnipiac not knowing how it would shape my college experience. I walked through the involvement fair trying to find ways to get involved. QTHON was a place I thought I could bring forth my passions. I aimed to fundraise towards the dancer minimum of that year, and decided to stay for the entirety of the event. The energy in the room pushed me to keep going and not to lose focus toward our cause. My team was able to sponsor a miracle child that year, Olivia, and we were able to learn more about her experience at CT Children’s Medical Center. Olivia was born with only one ventricle. Her family was told her diagnosis was “incompatible with life.” However, through the efforts of the medical staff and services at CT Children’s, she is now able to live a healthy and active life. Currently, Olivia is a ninth-grade student in honors, and an active member of her school’s cheerleading squad. After hearing her story, I knew in that moment that I was contributing to something larger than myself. I left QTHON that night craving to do more for the program.
Determined to be more involved in helping miracles happen, I joined the Morale Committee the following year. During my experience with Morale, we were given the privilege to see where our fundraised money was going towards by experiencing a tour of the hospital. I was astonished to see the services and values the hospital held. Most areas of the hospital were built through fundraised money that students like you and I have fundraised over the years. Specifically, some services QTHON was able to sponsor includes stretchers, pediatric cribs, cardiology exam rooms, vein illuminators, infusion and dialysis services and much more.
[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Victoria De La Rosa” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]After joining the Morale Committee, I applied for the Management Team. I was beyond nervous during the application process, but I was confident that I could implement and share my ideas with my peers. Currently, I have served on Management Team for the past two years. Joining the team became a pivotal point within my college career to take a chance and make a difference in my community. I gained confidence within my abilities, found the courage to share my story and challenged my ability. Who would’ve thought a team of 22 college students would activate a movement within our community? Together we redefined the meaning of leadership into teamwork, learned to trust in the vision of others and realized that we have the ability to change the lives of others.
During my time on the Management Team, QTHON started to bleed into my academics and personal life. The program taught vital skills that I can apply in all aspects of my life. It became necessary for me to learn how to create a network at my university, communicate with other universities and form a team. In addition, I realized the importance of teamwork and being open to new perspectives. This evolution within myself brought forth endless possibilities, ideas and relationships to build upon. This helped me become professional in my work and aided me in finding new job opportunities. In addition, by striving for a larger fundraising goal I was inspired to start my own jewelry business, VKD Jewelry, and use my endeavors within courses this past semester. I was able unite my passions to my involvement and education. This gave me a push to reach higher, strive for more and become fearless in the face of adversity.
By the end of March 2019, I will have danced more than 40 hours and personally fundraised over $2,500 for our dance marathon program throughout my four years. Yet, that is not nearly enough to measure for all the countless hours families spend in hospitals looking for hope. QTHON is so much more than an endless night of dancing or a number a raised up at midnight. It is learning how to respect my peers, talking to someone new and being held accountable. Everyone’s story is different at Quinnipiac and the same is reflected within dancers at QTHON. We all dance for a different reason, and we fundraise towards different goals but we all unite for one cause. We are here for the kids, with the kids and by the kids. Although, this is my senior year at Quinnipiac, I will never forget the impact this program has made on my undergraduate experience. You and I have the power to make an impact within QTHON. Now it’s your turn to take the next step, you might be surprised with what comes next.