Yesterday, I participated in an annual UMD event, Terp Thon. Basically, this is a campus dance marathon where students pledge to stand for 12 hours in order to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital to take care of children suffering from various conditions and make their hospital experience enjoyable rather than excruciating. Throughout the night, some of the children who have benefited from Children’s Hospital get on stage and speak of their experience. This program has been at Maryland for the past 4 years, and though I’ve heard about it before now and have always considered myself a dancin’ fool, I never actually got up the courage to go until this year.
I was thrilled to finally be going to Terp Thon. All I really expected from it was to have a good time with kickin’ music, a fun-loving crowd, and some entertaining events along the way. I raised $110 dollars to participate (a whole $10 over the minimum) and set off Saturday at noon to have a good time with some of my friends. Those orchestrating the event got up on a big stage in the middle of our indoor stadium and began going over the logistics of the night and a few events that would be taking place.
I was too busy trying to contain my excitement at the large crowd wearing matching neon shirts to pay much attention. My senses were overloaded with long-forgotten 90’s music, those colorful T-shirts, and the wonderful feeling of dancing without a care in the world.
But, I quickly came to realize that I had vastly underestimated what Terp Thon was about. The first child that came out on stage was about 2 years old and kept hiding behind his mother as she spoke about their family’s ordeal with the young kid’s aggressive form of cancer. Whoa. I was tearing up before she finished her speech. Where did this come from? I thought this was a dance party.
I knew it benefited children like little, shy Trevor, but I had no idea the amount of help him and his family needed, or the amazing support Children’s National provided them. I felt immediately guilty for not raising anymore money for these wonderful and deserving families. I felt guilty for coming to this event and expecting to have a good time while others were suffering. I felt guilty that I couldn’t do more, contribute more, be more for those that needed it.
This night was never about me and my sense of fun, it was always about the kids. Kids like Luca who has a brain disorder, Olivia who suffered from Spina Bifida, Lucwein who found a tumor in his left femur, or Hannah and Noble who had to get their legs amputated after a series of complications. All of these children and their families got the chance to speak to the 2,000 student participants who showed up to raise money for families just like theirs, and it moved me to pieces. I don’t even feel the need to mention what kind of food they served, or the activities they held, because all you need to know is how much people out there need your help, and that any amount of aid you give, means a world of difference to others. Together, the University of Maryland’s Terp Thon raised $306,735.45 for those that are in need.
My message to everyone is this, do something for others. It doesn’t have to be much, because any amount of effort that shows you care is just as valuable to the less fortunate. Terp Thon and the Children’s Miracle Network’s slogan is FTK, For the Kids. And when I participate next year, I’ll be sure to keep in mind those less fortunate than me and work to improve their own circumstances, not just look out for my own interests.
Also, it was still a lot of fun!
P.S. Expect me to request donations from everyone next year, or feel free to donate right away at: http://www.terpthon.org/donatenow.php