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Your Efforts Buy Something Money Can't - Time

Time is a construct that we as humans created to document the specific moments in our lives. What began as a measurement of the daylight has evolved into events that Facebook, Google pictures, and Snapchat remind of us of what pictures and videos were taken a year or years prior to the current day. However, for me, time is more than that and Dance Marathon helped me understand the concept of time in the context of the “why Dance Marathon?” question.


I was introduced to the concept of Dance Marathon in high school but did not understand it enough to really invest in it until my junior year of college at SDSU. In that year I tried to make a big impact in rallying my social circle and my student organizations of Alpha Kappa Psi and the SDSU Ambassadors to be empowered to raise money for the kiddos at Rady Children’s Hospital. Still, I did not understand the time aspect of it all. With the incredible program in 2019, Dance Marathon raised over $322k for Rady which culminated in me being selected to serve on the Leadership Team for the 2019-2020 school year. Time? Still illuded me conceptually which was difficult as I found that correlating money to the care was not enough to galvanize parts of the community. Then came October 30, 2019.


On this important date, the DM at SDSU Leadership team had an event at Rady Children’s Hospital put on by the Rady Relations team (Shout out 2019-2020 team: Kenya, Troy, Logan, Mikal and Michelle). This event was an arts and crafts Halloween event meant to share some great laughs, smiles, and most importantly moments in time with the kiddos. While the group was helping a certain kiddo paint a picture of her stuffed animal dog, I couldn’t help but notice something that would drill the concept of time into my head for the rest of my time on the leadership team and beyond. While watching her paint I took a second to look behind me to see that her mother had been napping the entire time huddled on a bench using her daughter’s other stuffed animal as a pillow. Then it hit me, Dance Marathon not only buys equipment through the money, but it buys time. That mother probably had countless sleepless nights worrying about her kiddo and us helping her daughter paint was time to rest.


Think about it, the money raised could buy a family more time. Time to spend with their child that they pray will constantly come. Time to rest as their kids get to escape the reality of being in a hospital by simply painting with some energetic college students. Time for the kid to be a kid. Time for an impossible situation to be made possible. One donation/volunteer hour/message to possible donors/stewarding donors can do that. I found that everything in Dance Marathon can be combined to equal more time. The time it takes for someone to think, then donate. The time it takes to send that one more “ask” message. The time that people volunteer to help at events or at the hospital events. All these things buying one thing. Time. The U.S. motto is the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum or “Out of Many, One” and I feel as if Dance Marathon perfectly encapsulates this phrase and we actually are facing a time where we all need to band together to rally for these kids, for these families, for that priceless time.


It is almost a weird thing to grapple with. We raise a monetary amount for a priceless entity in time. That is how the amount of money raised crept into my mind for the right reason. I began to see the money as a currency for time. I was often asked, “How come you focus on the money?” to which I responded with the concept of time and the endless benefits it provides. I wanted to buy all the time in the world for these families, so if that meant reaching out to every corner of my social circle to buy one priceless moment, I would have left no stone unearthed. For me, if every single dollar that I raised bought one more priceless moment for a kiddo and their family, then it is my duty and my obligation to do everything in my power to raise as much as I can and raise awareness to pass that passion forward.


Now why do this in general? Simply put, God forbid that my family be put in an impossible situation, but if it is the case, then I will know confidently that there might be one person, maybe an entire college campus, that is working to help my family live out one more priceless moment.


The question for all of us is many moments in life do we look at as priceless? The fact of the matter is that we all have them regardless of whether we recognize them in the moment or much after they happen. I urge anyone who reads this, think of the moments that define your experience in life. Think that your moment of deciding to be all in for the kids could be the breeding ground for a moment in time down the road for the families that you support.


One person that I look up to that personified priceless time was Jim Valvano. Jim was a basketball coach at North Carolina State University. After leading his team to a national championship in 1983, Jim was diagnosed with cancer just a little under a decade after his momentous achievement. On the night of the first ESPY’s in 1993 while battling cancer, Jim gave a world changing speech that launched cancer research to the forefront that it is today. The reason that I bring up his story is for the simple sentiment that he left that crowd at the ESPY’s with. He said, “What I would like to do is spend whatever time I have left and to give some hope to others.” Let that sink in. This man, with little time left on this earth, wanted to spend it providing hope and time to those that he loved and to those who were also struggling. To him, that was priceless time.


Time was a construct, and now it seems to be a point of fuel for movements like Dance Marathon. Think of every dollar, every moment, every kiddo, every family, and every participant. E Pluribus Unum.


- Matthew Leong, Director of Corporate Fundraising 2019-2020

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