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A Mile(stone) in Their Shoes Happy birthday! This is a phrase we are all too familiar with. I can recall the endless Facebook posts from people wishing me happy birthday, and my family singing to me as I blew out the candles on the delicious ice cream cake I always had to have on every birthday occasion, no matter how old. I remember turning 16 and just NEEDING to get my driver’s license, but now I look back and see that I have been fortunate enough to reach many milestones in my life and not every kid gets to experience that, or at least not without a fight. Recently, this past December, I was fortunate enough to celebrate twenty-one years of life, and it was a fun filled bittersweet moment. We have over 40 miracle kiddos, both with us, and forever dancing in our hearts. Some have been denied the ability to see much past the single-digit years of their life. To think that I have been fortunate enough to celebrate twenty-one birthdays with friends and family leaves me feeling blessed. Recently a miracle kiddo, Aubrey Townsend, finished her final rounds of treatment. It was an amazing day to hear of another child moving toward the chance to live a healthy life. But through her fight she spent three birthdays in the hospital being treated. How is it that a young girl has spent over 50% of her birthdays in the hospital and I have been fortunate enough to spend 100% of my 21 birthdays doing whatever it is I so choose? Many of us have had that luxury, but we neglect to think about those who are not so lucky. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of our miracle kiddos and their families. Some are still fighting their fight while others have won theirs. I have also met those parents and siblings who have lost their child, brother, sister, cousin, and/or best friend. These people have such an uplifting quality to their spirits, regardless of their loss. Could you imagine? Could you imagine having to let go of your child while they are only 3, 5, or even 9 years old? Fathers who will not get the chance to walk their daughters down the aisle or teach their son to play a sport they love. Mothers who will not get the chance to see their son or daughter graduate high school and go off to college. It is in these milestone moments that we see as being expected; while those parents of sick kiddos have to plan a funeral or imagine celebrating their child’s birthday without them. This IS the reality. This IS happening every single day. These kids cannot fight their fight alone. These kids cannot look to a better tomorrow without your help. I encourage each and EVERY one of you to consider donating to UNI Dance Marathon. Think about all of the milestones you have reached in your life: birthdays, anniversaries, having children, graduations. When you think of those moments, consider donating $5 or even $500 to help a child reach their next milestone. No one ever loses from giving back. ---- Chelsea Roehm Director of Finance

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