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Kids Deserve Hope: Why We Chose No Fundraising Goal

Today, Monday, October 5th, is Child Health Day. 


Celebrated on the first Monday of October every year, this federal observance day’s purpose is to raise awareness about how to protect and develop children’s healthcare. Parents, hospitals and caretakers worldwide acknowledge this special day in a variety of ways, and at Dance Marathon at SDSU we celebrated by revealing our theme for the year to the public. 


Traditionally, our year-long theme has focused on a specific number, the goal that we aim to raise For The Kids at Rady Children’s Hospital. However, since our movement pretty much couldn’t possibly look more different than it did this time last year or in years previously, we decided to shift our focus a little. 


Dance Marathon at SDSU 2021, for the first time ever, will not have a monetary goal. Instead, we will focus on the other aspects of our movement that make it so special, like bringing together our SDSU and Rady Children’s communities, raising awareness and embracing change. This doesn’t mean that we won’t aim to raise as much as possible, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Now more than ever, our miracle kids and families need our love and support. In honor of that reality, the theme we have chosen for this year is Kids Deserve Hope.


This year has taught us all that life can change in the blink of an eye, and no one knows that reality better than the parents of a sick or injured child. For them, hearing their child’s often-terrifying diagnosis for the first time turns their world completely upside down, making all they ever knew as a parent feel obsolete. They go from knowing everything about their child and how to care for them to feeling powerless in the face of a critical diagnosis and leaving their precious life completely in the hands of people who are essentially strangers. 


Outside of reviewing and researching a little piece of paper with a treatment protocol on it, there’s not much that they can do except, sit, wait and hope while they hold the hand of their child enduring the unimaginable. That kind of powerlessness is something one can only imagine unless they’ve experienced it firsthand, which thousands of Rady families have and continue to face day in and day out.


Even through a pandemic, natural disasters, an election, and the countless other obstacles that 2020 has thrown at us, kids are still getting sick and injured, and need care at Rady Children’s Hospital. Any of these things on their own would be at best a stressor and at worst life-altering, but to experience them while your child is in need of medical care is unimaginable. Miracle families don’t get to just tune the world out.


The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the way we live our lives completely on its head. This time last year, the words “social distancing” were seldom spoken by anyone outside the epidemiology field, almost nobody owned a cloth mask, and the idea of school and work being totally online was laughable. Today, all of those things and more are not only a reality, but the new normal. 


While those initial feelings may have faded since the pandemic’s initial onset, feeling uncertain, shocked, scared, confused and everything in between is only natural. Until March or April, we took the little things in life for granted, even the mundane or even unenjoyable ones. In an instant, our lives, schedules and future plans were placed on hold with no indication of when or if they’ll return to normal.


If you’re anything like me, you thrive on having some kind of control over your life and schedule. I always found a weird degree of comfort in knowing that no matter how boring or long the day ahead may be, at least it was full and I knew exactly where I needed to be and when. While the boredom and fear were large parts of what made those first few weeks of lockdown so hard, it was the relinquishing of all control that made my head spin. The powerlessness over the state of the world is still something I struggle with regularly.


When the idea of no goal was pitched at one of our first ever Management Team meetings, I laughed it off. How are we supposed to market no goal? We just came off of our most successful year yet by a mile, why would we waste that momentum and do a moonshot when we’ve seen firsthand how people can thrive off of having clear direction? The idea of not having any kind of control over our fundraising potential was frightening.


However, as the weeks marched onwards, SDSU announced the CSU’s decision to move instruction online for the fall, and the reality of the pandemic began to sink in a little more, I realized that all of the fears and feelings I was having were not unique to me or to current events. The fear, the confusion, the uncertainty, they were all emotions felt by the parents of the kids I’ve grown to know and love over my past three years’ involvement with Dance Marathon at SDSU, but on a scale I cannot even begin to process.


These families had everything normal snatched away from them also, but not because of the pandemic, but because their child is fighting for their life. That’s something that a bunch of college students and young adults can’t even begin to relate to, but our movement stands in solidarity with those who have no choice but to understand. We are all facing challenges right now, but nothing can compare to having a sick child.


For them, the bravest kids and families in the world, the only goal is for their child to live. So, in their honor, our only goal is to give them the hope they need to get there.


To have no goal is to not fixate on a number, and instead focus on empathy and community. To have no goal is to relinquish control of what may happen, and focus on what’s happening right now. To have no goal is to fight for one thing and one thing only, kids’ lives. Because, at the end of the day, Kids Deserve Hope for the future. 


The reality is, that despite astronomical advancements in healthcare and medicine, there are still some families that truly do not know if their child will get to have a future. That quintessential childhood question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” becomes what do you want to be if you get to grow up. No family should have to face that. Every child, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what their diagnosis is, deserves a fighting chance at a healthy life. 


Dance Marathon at SDSU lives and fundraises by the mantra that our children are our only hope for the future, but we are their only hope for their present and their future. Although we’re not able to save the world, we are still in the incredibly unique position to still be able to bring hope and joy to the kids and families who need it most from wherever we are. We are so lucky to be based on a campus that has adopted this movement so seamlessly and quickly, and that is still rising to the challenge of growing the cause For The Kids even through unprecedented circumstances. 


To our Dance Marathon at SDSU miracle families, participants, donors, supporters and community -- we cannot thank you enough for your continued support through ups and downs, thick and thin. The momentum that we have in spite of a pandemic and functioning 100% online for the first time ever would not be possible without you, and we feel so lucky to be part of a community that constantly fuels us with its generous time and giving.


Happy Child Health Day, and remember that together we can help ensure a brighter, healthier future for the littlest people fighting the biggest battles.


Kids deserve the best care.

Kids deserve to be kids.

Kids deserve hope.


- Chelsey Crowne, Dance Marathon at SDSU VP External Affairs 2020-2021

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