In February, I had the privilege of running in the Hope Express, a 135-mile run that was created with the intention of bridging the gap between the families on the seventh floor at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., and the dancers at the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON). The seventh floor at HMC is where the pediatric cancer patients are treated, and THON is a student-run philanthropy that has raised more than $78 million for the fight against pediatric cancer.
I got involved in THON my freshman year at Penn State, and doing so was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had the opportunity to dance in THON my senior year, which meant I had to stay awake and on my feet for 46 hours straight. Sound crazy? Maybe a little. It took me an entire week to catch up on my sleep, and my feet ached for days, but every second of discomfort or delirium was worth it because I knew I was helping to make a difference in the life of a child.
Not wanting to lose my connection to a cause so near and dear to my heart, I applied to run in the Hope Express a few month after graduating in May 2011. I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate and met dozens of incredible people because of it. One of those people was Emily Whitehead.
Though it was brief, I met six-year-old Emily at Hershey Medical Center a few hours before the Hope Express kicked off. She was a bit shy and tired, but overall doing well in her battle with Leukemia. Since February, however, Emily’s health has taken a downward turn, and now she needs your help.
She needs your thought and your prayers, your love and your support, your strength and your courage. She’s fighting for her life right now, but she can’t win this fight on her own. So please, keep this beautiful little girl in your hearts, and send her all of the positivity you can muster.
NO child deserves to experience this, and one day, hopefully no child ever will. Until then, THON and the Hope Express are working toward conquering pediatric cancer, and you can, too. In October, I’ll be joining 11 other runners in a Ragnar Relay to continue to raise money for and awareness about the Hope Express. As always, the money we raise will go to THON and bring us one step closer to keeping kids like Emily out of the hospital and on the playground, where they belong. To give to the Hope Express and our Ragnar Relay team, you can visit my donation page.
Even if you can’t donate, please keep Emily in your prayers; she needs them now more than ever. Her birthday is May 2—let’s help her see her seventh year and many more to come.
Are you on Twitter? Use the hashtag #PrayingForEm to spread Emily’s story and send her your thoughts and prayers!