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Spring Housing Guide

Making miracles happen for kids at DM

“For the kids! For the kids! For the kids!”

As their voices filled the Student Recreation Center, so did their spirit. With only minutes to go, the students who had stayed awake and on their feet for 32 hours were joined by the children they had devoted much of their school year to helping.

As they gathered around the stage, miracle children and the finance core committee held up signs announcing the grand total for Dance Marathon 2006, $155,779.23, compared to last year’s $162,243.53.

As Tabitha Prince heard how much money was raised, she couldn’t stop crying. A few years ago, similar efforts were made to help her cousin Mason Smith, a cystic fibrosis patient, who passed away in June 2004.

As the event came to a close, Prince said she felt “amazing, just knowing what a difference it could make in these kids’ lives.”

In her last year at BGSU, Prince, along with approximately 1,100 students, worked to raise money and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network at St. Vincent’s Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo.

The money raised will buy medical equipment, and help fund child life programs and life enrichment and research programs for children with terminal and serious diseases, birth defects, and severe trauma.

Those efforts helped kids like Brittany Hendricks, who was in a car accident in January. She broke her leg in three places and has undergone three surgeries.

Dealing with her injuries has been difficult for her, but due to the playroom and activities the hospital provided with the money raised by Dance Marathon last year, her mother Kris Hendricks said she has been improving.

“The playroom was so awesome for Brittany because she was in a lot of pain. And when she watched videos that Children’s Miracle Network provided, it took her mind off the pain and her situation,” Hendricks said.

It is those moments, John Lechman, the director of Toledo’s Children’s Miracle Network, said, that make events like Dance Marathon so great.

“We couldn’t succeed in treating the child inside every patient without your support,” Lechman told the students before the total was announced.

That support required students who volunteered as dancers who participated to be on their feet for 32 hours straight.

While playing with the Miracle Family kids, line dancing and crafts helped the dancers stay upbeat, but they still needed the moralers’ help.

“The hardest thing for us as moralers is when the dancers get really tired, and they want to sit down, and we have to tell them ‘no’ and motivate them to keep going,” said Crystal McElroy.

But as her fellow moraler, Amanda Berlas said, “Seeing the kids makes everything worthwhile.” First-timer Nate Buker agreed.

Catching his second or third wind, Buker, a dancer, said his reasons for being a part of Dance Marathon changed over time. In the beginning, he joined because he was “bored.” But after learning more about Children’s Miracle Network, he “found a deeper meaning.”

Buker said he was surprised how normal these kids were.

“Getting to know them gave them a personality, instead of a name and a complication,” he said.

Buker recalled tossing a football around with a boy “that had a great throwing arm,” and saw a girl who could sing really well.

Among the kids that kept the 242 dancers like Buker motivated was Eric Rine Jr., a 5-year-old who was flying past everyone on his skateboard.

Eric was born with spina bifida, a disease that his mother, Stephanie, said has kept him from walking, except for the short distances the braces allow.

After 16 surgeries, Eric is excited to be among the college students who visit him so frequently. “The students adore him,” Rine said.

As the event winded down, the Rines along with the rest of the participating Miracle Families shared their gratitude with the participants.

Standing on the sidelines was Sidney Ribeau, president of the University, who watched the students with enthusiasm.

“It’s so inspiring to think they’re having a good time and they’re doing something of great human importance,” he said.

He added that an event like Dance Marathon is what a college education is all about. Students should be learning how “to use their natural abilities and God-given talents to make a difference in the world,” Ribeau said.

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