I turn 21 today and I get to look forward to a day full of family, birthday wishes from loved ones, dinner with my closest friends, and just a care free, great day. My entire life, my birthday has looked like this, the biggest thing I had to worry about was what I was going to wear to school or when I would get to open my presents. This is the way that birthdays should be, and the way that birthdays are for a lot of people, but for kiddos that face life threatening illnesses or injuries, a carefree day might not be an option.
Whether it be for a checkup, a procedure, or just that they’re too sick to leave, spending a birthday in a hospital is a harsh reality that too many kids have to face. Or maybe their birthday marks the anniversary of a diagnosis, an intensive surgery, or an emergency room visit. Or for some families, who's child is Forever Dancing in our Hearts, a birthday is a reminder of a child who was gone too soon. Their birthday might not hold the same feelings of joy and excitement that many of us have.
There’s a lot of cool organizations that I’ve found that help kiddos celebrate their birthdays in the hospital, who help them shift the focus from their illness for just 30 minutes and celebrate. One of those is the Confetti Foundation, and I encourage you to check it out and maybe send a birthday card to a kiddo in the hospital!
But while birthdays can be tough for those that have painful memories associated with it, they can also be an incredible source of hope for kiddos with life threatening illnesses and injuries. Every time one of our miracle kiddos celebrates a birthday, it's so much more than them turning a year older. It's a celebration of life. A celebration of them defying the odds. A celebration of one more year spent fighting, and one more year that they’ve spent beating childhood illness.
So when you see Dance Marathon post about kiddo birthdays that month, think of the kiddo that was told they wouldn’t reach 6 years old, and now they’re turning 10, and celebrate with them. Think of the kiddos spending their birthday in the hospital, and send them a card to help brighten their day. And remember the kiddos that are Dancing in our Hearts that would’ve turned one, or seven, or fifteen that day, and keep their loved ones in your thoughts and your prayers, and continue to strive for a world where childhood illness no longer exists.
P.S. One of our very own miracle kiddos, Alaina Hettinger, is turning 13 years old today, so leave some birthday wishes in the comments :)