I had the privilege of attending part of Saint Louis University’s Dance Marathon on Saturday-Sunday, November 17-18. Hundreds of SLUdents danced from 3pm-3am with children receiving treatments at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and Saint Louis Children’s Hospital. All the proceeds from the fundraiser – over $60,000 – went to the Children’s Miracle Network of Saint Louis to help defray the costs of expensive and extensive medical treatment. It was a fun afternoon/evening/night/early morning where many SLUdents came together for a common purpose of love of neighbor. On top of all that was a moonbounce, sno-cones, and some gentlemen performing this timeless classic from the Backstreet Boys:
(SLU’s Miracle Makers and their rendition of “I Want It That Way” – video courtesy of Sarah Allabastro, SLU ‘13)
There are many reasons to engage in philanthropy. Events from black-tie galas to lemonade stands and car washes are great social events that allow people to sympathize with – and make a boat-load of money for – the less-fortunate. But the folks organizing the SLU Dance Marathon aimed not for sympathy as much as for solidarity. I’ll let them tell you why they organized this event:
“Hearing their stories throughout the night, and the obstacles they have overcome make standing on your feet for 12 hours seem like nothing.”
“It was a truly humbling and inspiring experience hearing their stories and getting to actually interact with [the kids].”
“[T]he 12 hours of the event is a chance to be a kid again – play games, dress in costumes, and dance with all your friends.”
“I dance for those who can’t. I dance to create miracles. I dance for hope. And I dance to give all kids the childhood memories they deserve.”
This wasn’t just a silly dance party that raised a few bucks. Students channeled their inner-child through music, costumes, games, and – most importantly – through conversation with the children who benefit from the event. The SLUdents became like the children on dialysis and chemotherapy to be “for the kids,” as Dance Marathon puts it.
Solidarity and generosity. Sounds a lot like another miracle that occurred in Bethlehem 2000 years ago – to me, at least.