As we all know, the biggest goal of IlliniThon is to raise money for St. John’s Children’s Hospital. But have you ever really thought about how that affects the kids there? How we impact the families?
That money doesn’t just provide objects, it provides comfort. It provides a soft teddy bear for a child to squeeze during biopsy. It provides medical dolls to demonstrate procedures, so that it’s not so scary. It provides a mother with a chair that allows her to hold her baby, even if only for a few minutes. It provides moments of comfort in really uncomfortable situations. And that’s just the money.
But you, as a student, as a member of IlliniThon, as a person are so much more than a bank to these kids. You’re not just another adult to them, you’re their friend. You’re someone they are happy to come back and see every year. You’re someone they look up to, someone who is at a point in their life that they want to be able to get to. You’re a role model, even if it doesn’t feel like it. And that is done without the money. That’s simply by you being there. In being there for them- that’s one of the biggest impacts you could ever have on a person.
And not only have we made an impact on these kids and their families, but they’ve left a pretty big impact on us. Now I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. Throughout the past three years, there have been a lot of changes in my life. People come and go, by the time I think I’ve settled into a class routine I’m registering for the next semester, jobs change, career requirements change, and sometimes you end up being away from your family for a much longer time than you want to. All the pieces are constantly changing. But what I have found, is that IlliniThon is the one piece that fits exactly where it’s supposed to. It has given me the ability to focus. It has given me something to be passionate about. It has shown me that miracles can happen. And it has shown me that I have found another family right here. For the past three years, these kids have given me a reason to get through to tomorrow, no matter how hard today was.
For as much as we impact the kids from St. John’s, they have done the same, if not more, for us.