Then I kept thinking back to last Friday and Saturday; two days and nights where so many awesome moments are still imprinted in my mind. For twenty four hours straight I participated in Dance Marathon, an organization that focuses on benefiting children and their families being treated at the hospital on campus. The whole night in itself was powerful and moving. One may think that it would be impossible to stay awake for twenty four hours straight, but when you think about who you're doing it for and why, you don't really think about the fact that you;re tired. Personally, I was more focused on the amazing stories that were being told and just the overall adrenaline rush I felt when chanting "FTK" with hundreds of other people.
Just as well, emotions were running extremely high. I teared up pretty frequently, particularly when parents would get up on stage and give a presentation about their child, some who lost their lives to cancer. I'm a bit of a weeper as it is, so it was difficult not to lose it completely, even though this was probably the one time that I wasn't embarrassed to cry in front of other people. And there came a point where when I wasn't crying, I was cranky and agitated at trying to find a way to keep the fatigue from hitting me at full force.
Around three in the morning, my body somewhat gave out; While the DJ was taking a break, a couple of (I'm assuming local) bands got up onstage to play. It was extremely loud, and combined with my feet being on fire, that was enough to trigger exhaustion. I left the main room in order to find a wall to lean against, but wound up collapsing twice (once against a gated area, and another in front of a friend of mine while I was trying to get to the first aid station).
Honestly, I somewhat hated the fact that I took a spill. I tried blaming it on my Sketchers Shape Up's (never wear those kinds of shoes if you plan on standing up for twenty four hours straight; they make your legs and feet feel pain like no other) but I knew otherwise. Up until that night, I had never so much as pulled an all nighter, so my body probably wasn't used to it. I got permission from a doctor to sleep if I needed to. A part of me felt like I was abusing the whole point of the event, but deep down I knew that I had to take care of myself.
Not to say that it wasn't totally terrible; I wore slippers for the rest of the night, got a pretty motivating pep talk from a good friend of mine, had a back massage and ate ice cream.
The rest of the time I danced and periodically slept whenever I felt the need to. The best part didn't occur until Saturday evening, where everyone that is still standing takes part in a little something called Power Hour; it's where during the last hour before Dance Marathon ends, everyone gets into a bit group and pretty much jumps up an down for sixty minutes straight. I thought I was going to get clobbered, but thankfully no injuries occurred.
And as you can imagine I was wiped out afterward. By the end, we had raised well over a million dollars (I can't quite remember the exact number).
As cliche as this sounds, the whole thing genuinely changed my perspective. I have a habit of getting caught up in so many stresses that come with life, and in particular come with being a college student: wanting to do well in all of my classes, wanting to hang out and do stuff with my friends, and being independent. But seeing those kids and hearing their stories, I really understood that there is so much more to life than just getting good grades and going out on the weekends. Not that I didn't know that before, but sometimes my mind goes in so many different directions and I can't think rationally.
When it comes to anyone that deals with cancer, or any other life threatening sickness, all they want to do is live to see another day. All they want to do is get better and get out of the hospital so that they can do all the normal things they used to do. They just want to be healthy.
So who am I to complain?
At the very end, a couple of people approached me and said "Wow, you have cerebral palsy and you did Dance Marathon? You're amazing!"
I graciously accepted the compliment, but I couldn't help but think to myself, No, it's not me that's amazing. What's amazing is what can happen when we all come together and work for something, if only for one night.