We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

I am a SOPHOMORE now studying at the University of Alabama. Woah.. How did that happen?? Within the next two and a half years, I plan to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in nursing.

I am a part of an organization called the University of Alabama Dance Marathon. This group raises money for an entire year, and our fundraising efforts culminate in the spring with a twelve hour long dance marathon. For every second of those twelve hours, we remain on our feet- standing, playing games, and dancing. Every penny that we raise throughout that year directly benefits the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals. So, when we are emotionally exhausted and our feet our sore, we keep on standing and dancing for the kids who can’t.

Dance Marathon is an organization I am incredibly passionate about. As many of you know, when I was just 14 years old, I spent six consecutive months in a Children’s hospital. I endured countless procedures, exams, scans, and tests. I was forced to miss my school’s homecoming dance and spend both my birthday and Thanksgiving tethered to an IV pole. My family was constantly split apart, and I hardly saw my friends. Despite these challenging circumstances and consistent pain, I kept a smile on my face every day. This smile was put there because of the incredible nurses that cared for me, the activities planned by the child life directors, and the bright colors and open windows of the facility itself. Every adult in Children’s Miracle hospitals around the country gives 110% of themselves to make a child forget they are in a hospital and smile despite sickness. This is the driving factor behind my desire to become a nurse. I cannot wait to make an impact on hundreds of children’s lives.

I don’t have to wait until I receive my degree to make this impact, though. I am a part of the Hospital Relations committee within UADM, which means I get to work directly with the hospital and the pediatric patients of Children’s of Birmingham. I have the opportunity to play video games with the boys and give fun makeovers to the girls. None of this is possible, though, without fundraising. Additionally, our monetary donations go towards research for pediatric illness.

In the original Dance Marathon mission statement, there are the following phrases:

“We dance for the kids who can’t.”

“We dance so the sick kids can grow up and attend college and continue to dance”
“…Until there are no more sick kids.”
The amazing part of Dance Marathon is that I am written into the mission statement. I AM ONE OF THOSE SICK KIDS who became healthy and now gets to advocate on behalf of the other child patients. And I plan to dance and raise money until.. there. are. no. more. sick. kids.

Last year, I had the incredible fortune of raising $2,000 for Dance Marathon, all of which is sent directly to Children’s of Birmingham. As an organization, we raise $120,000 which is incredible! This year, I desire to reach $2,500, because our overall goal is to break $200K. This is where I need your help.

I want to mention that the size of a donation makes no matter. Spare change quickly adds up to make an incredible difference in the lives of children. Our funds go towards purchasing iPads for children to play on their way to surgery and towards buying art supplies for the craft classes. I discovered my passion for painting through such activities and personally had my own anxiety eased as one of my nurses taught me to play Angry Birds before having my first of several abdominal surgeries. I continue to battle depression, anxiety, an autoimmune disease, and miscellaneous health issues. In spite of these challenges though, I recognize that God has given me such experiences to fuel my passion for helping others in similar circumstances.
I am a firm believer that God has everything happen for a reason. I believe I was meant to be a patient in a Children’s hospital for so long, so that I can now help other pediatric patients through UADM. And, I believe that I was meant to gain support from you. Even if no monetary donations or offerings are possible at this time, the continued support, encouragement, and prayers for my efforts are truly equally as meaningful.

If I could personally hug you, I absolutely would. I am beyond grateful for your unseen support, shown by even reading this far into my lengthy email. Additionally, I am thankful for your consideration of donating to UADM and for your time spent doing so. I simply just ask you think about the reason we all are a part of this organization… For The Kids!

I am happy to answer any questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to contact me (eachiaravalloti@crimson.ua.edu) or browse my fundraising page. The following link will take you to a biography page about my previous involvement with Dance Marathon, as well as show you where to donate.
Thank you!!! and FTK!!!
Love,
Emily
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Hello Everyone!

Happy Friday!

Just wanted to give you an update on UADM’s Miracle Mania fundraising efforts! In the last 35 hours we raised just over $7,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, which is an incredible amount! That puts us quite a ways away from our 20K goal, though. If you are able to contribute to anything to UADM, we still have a whole month until the big day, and any size donation will be welcome at any time- every penny makes an amazing difference! However, if you would like to help us accomplish our goal in addition to helping change the lives of hundreds and thousands of children, our Miracle Mania mini-marathon of fundraising is going on until midnight tonight!

Please know that I absolutely do not want any of you to feel obligated to give. I am just incredibly passionate about giving every ounce of my human ability to raise as much money as I can for a cause that is so near and dear to my heart. If you cannot give financially, your support and prayers for my involvement with UADM mean the absolute world to me.

Have a wonderful weekend, and remember to support UADM… FTK!!!!

Love,

Emily

Here is the link to my fundraising page if you are able to give!

http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=302449

OVER FIFTY PERCENT!!

Hello!

Just wanted to send out a quick update on my UADM efforts! Today, UADM began our first Marathon Mania virtual 20K in which we try to raise 20,000 DOLLARS in just 48 hours. In the past few hours, I have received many generous donations, but I still need more help!

I made it my personal goal to raise $800 for this organization. This was a goal that, until this afternoon, I was very unsure about reaching. However, I am now OVER HALFWAY to my goal, which is a huge accomplishment! My main effort now is to still raise that eight hundred dollars, but also to see how far over that amount I am able to receive donations for.

This organization has such a wonderful mission in benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, which I have a very personal connection with. I am incredibly passionate about raising money for UADM because I know what it’s like to be a teenager in the hospital for an extended period of time, but I can’t even imagine what it would be like as a kid. Every cent that you donate will make an incredible impact on hundreds, if not thousands of children’s lives.

  • 62 children enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for treatment every minute.
  • One in 10 kids in North America is treated by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals each year.
  • CMN helps to provide 32 million patient visits for 10 million kids every year.
  • Every day, CMN hospitals treat 16,000 children in emergency rooms.
  • Every hour, CMN hospitals provide surgery for 97 children.
  • U.S. members hospitals provided $3.4 billion in charity care in 2012.

AND

  • $50 could provide the Hospital with bubbles, books games and other tools to help distract a child during a medical procedure or could provide the “Beads of Courage” journey for two patients
  • $100 could provide a set of plastic ear molds for hearing aids for one a patient or Arts and Crafts supplies for a group of patients.
  • $250 could provide Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy technology and equipment for patients or one I-pad used to distract patients going into surgery.

So please, please, please donate FTK!!!!!!!

Love,

Emily

Here is the link to my fundraising page if you are able to donate!

http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=302449

For The Kids!

Hey Everyone!

It has been quite some time since I posted anything on this blog, but I thought that maybe it was time for a quick update on me. It was three years ago that I was a patient in the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. In March, it will be three years since my surgery that finally resolved the symptoms I had. I realized recently that while my experience of being in the hospital for six months was not one I would want to repeat, it was a major event in my life that has shaped me into who I am today. I was taken care of my countless amazing nurses, several of which I am friends with on Facebook now. Those nurses were the women who helped me to discover what I want to do with my life. I am currently in college at the University of Alabama (for those of you who don’t know) and studying to become a nurse. I want to be able to make an impact on children’s lives, make them smile despite sickness, the way my nurses did for me several years ago. Because of this dream I have to become a pediatric nurse, I quickly became involved in an organization on campus called University of Alabama Dance Marathon.

If any of you are Penn Staters, this event is pretty much exactly like Thon, just on a slightly smaller scale. Since October, I have been trying to raise money for this event. On March 7th, I will be dancing all day with hundreds of other participants for the big Dance Marathon Day. I recently was selected as a Morale Leader, meaning that I will be working hard for those 10 hours to teach everyone fun line dances, lead the dancing games, and keep the excitement levels high. I am incredibly honored and excited about this opportunity to be on the UADM staff! Then, at the end of the night, we will reveal how much money we raised over the course of the last eight months (Last year, they raised $83,000!!!) This money goes directly to the Children’s Hospital of Birmingham, a hospital much like the one I was a patient at in 2012.

These hospitals are all across America (part of the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals), and are catered entirely towards children, as they should be. But, if you have never been in one, let me tell you about it. At the hospital in Atlanta, there are volunteers coming every day to provide activities for the kids who are patients there. There is a place in the basement called “The Zone”, where there are multiple TVs with video game systems, cabinets full of art supplies, and a garden with a basketball court outside. Different organizations hold events every afternoon and night to provide entertainment and an escape for the children who would so much rather be anywhere else than a hospital. I spent a lot of time in the Zone. That’s where I learned to really paint and got quite good at it. It is where I made friends with volunteers and the Child Life Specialists. It is where I would go to try to forget I was in a hospital. The money that I am raising for Alabama Dance Marathon goes to a hospital much like that. I am working very hard trying to receive donations because I know that staying in a hospital is not fun at all. But, these pediatric hospitals have amazing programs to make the time spent there more bearable, and the money will be able to make them even better.

In a few years, I hope to be working at a Children’s Hospital somewhere, and I would love to know that I was able to donate to the very place I am so passionate about and have history with. I have a very difficult time asking for money, because I know it’s hard to spare sometimes (as I college student, I am really learning the truth of this statement…) However, I am not asking for much at all. Five dollars, or even one dollar can make such a big difference! Even if you aren’t able to donate anything, your support for my endeavor means the world to me. I know it is a long shot that you all will still receive an email about my blog post and read about this amazing fundraiser I am a part of, but I am really hoping it works. If you are able to donate at all, please know that I am incredibly grateful!! My goal is $800, I only currently have $190, and there is a month left until the Dance Marathon day. Please tell your friends, family, and neighbors about UADM, if not for donations, for awareness about such an amazing organizations.

If you have any questions about what I am participating in, you can read about our mission at www.uadm.ua.edu

And remember, you don’t have to do this for me, just please donate… FTK!!!! (for the kids!)

Here is the link to my Donor Drive, if you want to donate to this wonderful cause!!

HELP MAKE MIRACLES!!!

http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=302449

My Journey Continues

My journey is not over! If you want to keep getting updates on how God helps me through all of my trials, you can follow my new blog. I’m posting about the lessons God teaches me, my paintings, my stories I’ve written, my online schoolwork, and my life in general. I realized that even though I’m out of the hospital and my pain is gone doesn’t mean that my journey has ended. It continues, and I’m posting all about it. Check out “My Journey Continues” by clicking on the link!

http://gingersnap18.wordpress.com/

ImageI think I might finally be able to close this chapter of my life. On March 15, 2012, I had MALS surgery. The surgeons used four incisions across my abdomen and one cut in my belly button to release the pressure of my diaphragm on my Celiac artery. Dr. Dodson and Dr. Wulkan came out to my parents after they closed me up and they were apparently beaming. As soon as they cut through my diaphragm, my artery immediately popped back up and they saw the blood flowing normally again. I came out of the anesthesia and looked up at my mom. I told her my stomach hurt- but I didn’t feel my old pain anymore. It was gone.

I ate a few bites of food that night and I noticed that I wasn’t nauseous anymore, either. It felt like a miracle. One simple surgery, and it seemed like everything was fixed. Granted, I still have some follow up appointments regarding any issues with my adrenal glands and a possible auto-immune thing, but my pain and nausea are gone. I was afraid to admit it at first. I thought I might jinx it. But I think that eleven days post-surgery, it is safe to say that I don’t have them anymore! It only took the doctors 23 weeks to get their act together…. 

But that’s okay. I realized that had none of this happened, or if I had the surgery when they originally planned it in November in Cincinnati, I never would have had the chance to meet some amazing people. Throughout all of this, I learned who my true friends really are. The ones who visited and kept in touch and went out of their way to make sure I wasn’t lonely will have a special place in my heart forever. The FCA group at Allatoona High School (especially my Bible study girls) are amazing, and I believe their prayers helped God work some healing miracles within me. I got closer to Lizzy, who I went to middle school with, but never talked with much. I got closer to Allison, who I hadn’t talked to as often as I did my freshman year. I grew incredibly close to Jessie, who is my ginger sister :) I met a girl at Scottish Rite who has Behcet’s disease- a rare auto-immune disorder that is a possible diagnosis for me. I have grown amazingly close to other friends that I already had, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The nurses and doctors that took care of me were wonderful, and I think I will be friends with some of them for a very long time. 

Today was one of the most perfect days I have had in a very long time. I saw my GI doctor who started taking care of me not long after all this started. She got very choked up when she told me I didn’t need any follow appointments and that I was cleared from her point of view. I walked over to Scottish Rite and got to visit all the amazing nurses who cared for me for weeks on end. They were all very surprised to see me up and about and in normal clothes. But I think the moment that I will remember for a lifetime is when I walked into the band room at Allatoona. I got butterflies in my stomach as everyone in band clapped for my healing. Mrs. Markham and Mr. Gurnow gave me huge hugs, and I couldn’t have been happier. There are times when marching band is grueling and I wonder why I march through the intense heat. But, when I saw how everybody welcomed me back, I remembered why- these people are not just my friends, they’re my band family :)

My faith was put to the test during this trial. There were times I wondered why God wasn’t fixing me if so many people were praying for my healing. There were days that I cried because I didn’t understand why He let this happen to me. All I wanted more than anything was to be in school with my friends, going to marching band competitions on Saturdays and football games on Fridays. I mean, what teenager wants to be stuck in a hospital room for weeks on end, not able to go to the movies or go shopping? Certainly not me. I didn’t understand why God would let me suffer through months of pain without even a slight indication of when it all might end. Of course, I had my good days when I thanked God for letting me feel a bit better. But deep inside, I was still upset that I wasn’t completely healed. But, the feeling of sadness and confusion went on for a long time, and the feeling I had when I was better made it all worth it. God had me suffer through pain to build my confidence and to make me stronger. During difficult times, we often feel like He has abandoned us, and then when our life is going wonderfully, we forget that He is the one who made this possible. Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to that. Through my pain, I did not feel very close to God, because it did not seem like He was answering any prayer I had. After surgery, I had an incredible surge of gratefulness that He had finally healed me. And now with life feeling so wonderful, I forget that I should be thanking Him for these happy times. I believe that God allowed me to recognize the weaknesses in my faith in order to build it up even stronger. I am by no means perfect, and I cannot guarantee that my relationship with God will be perfect, either. But I know that anytime I am doubting my faith, I can look back to this time and see how faithful He truly is. 

This week I am going to start taking some online classes to make up my classes. I still want to graduate with all my friends, and I plan to go back to school in the fall as a junior. Plus, as soon as i’m done weaning off of the narcotics, I can get my permit and start to drive! Eek! Exciting, but pretty scary… I still have my hospital bracelets on… I thought I would have wanted them off as soon as possible. But, I realized, even though I’m home, I’m still on pain meds and healing from surgery. My own personal measurement of when I am completely healed is when I am able to go running again. When I can run the two mile loop that I ran almost everyday last year, I can finally say I’m better and I will cut them off. It’s just my own little cheesy symbolic thing :)

I am still going to continue to draw and paint, for that is something I discovered that I truly love. I am going to go running as soon as my body will allow me to. When I go back to school, I am going to get more involved with the drama department, because I was actually supposed to be a part of Beauty and the Beast at my school before I ended up in the hospital- I realize I like to act, too. I am still going to be a clarinetist, because I love being a part of the band family so much. And I am always going to remember everything that this experience taught me:

  • There is always someone worse off than you; be thankful for what you have.
  • The love of family and friends is extremely precious; don’t take it for granted.
  • And, no matter what, God will never ever abandon you.

 

This is a bittersweet ending… But I think it is finally safe to say I can move on to the next chapter of my life… I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my future <3

 

I think the title speaks for itself- it’s as if she wrote this song just for me!!!

You know the bed feels warmer,
Sleeping here alone,
You know I dream in color,
And do the things I want.
You think you got the best of me
Think you had the last laugh
Bet you think that everything good is gone.
Think you left me broken down
Think that i’d come running back
Baby you don’t know me, cause you’re dead wrong.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean i’m over cause you’re gone
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me myself and i
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean i’m lonely when i’m alone
You heard that I was starting over with someone new,
They told you I was moving on, over you,
You didn’t think that I’d come back, i’d come back swinging
You try to break me but you see
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
stand a little taller
doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause your gone.
what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
Thanks to you I got a new thing started
Thanks to you I’m not the broken hearted
Thanks to you I’m finally thinking ’bout me
You know in the end the day I left was just my beginning….. in the end…
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, Myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.
I’m not alone

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