I had the privilege of volunteering as a “dancer” for the For The Kids (FTK) event on Saturday, April 13th at the Mullins Center. The FTK event is a year-long fundraiser in which money is raised for the Bay State Children’s Hospital as the hospital receives $0 in state funding. This past Saturday was a celebration of the efforts put forth to raise $282,123.76 and to celebrate the children of the Baystate Children’s Hospital. Prior to the event, I had known SigEp has been consistently involved, working in positions ranging from the finance committee to the Master of Ceremonies; however, I had no idea how important this event was for the Baystate Children’s Hospital and for SigEp.
The magnitude of the importance of this event became clear 15 minutes into my arrival. 15 minutes in, it was announced that the kids were going to be brought out. Every attendant at the event had to make a path for the kids to come out from the “players entrance” and out into the floor and eventually center stage. With hundreds of people on either side of the Mullins Center Floor, the children walked out one by one with their families towards center stage. This is when it really hit me. Nearly all these kids were severely disabled and we were truly putting on something special.
As more kids were brought out, my clapping and cheering got louder. As the last family had made their way to center stage, the tunnel folded in on itself and everyone went to center stage. The Master of Ceremonies began handing the microphone to each kid so that they could share their name. The third kid was in a wheelchair and shared that his name was “Connor”. Connor said his name very nervously. I can’t blame him, he was in the spotlight in front of hundreds of people. The second he said his name, I started crying. Not out of sadness, but out of appreciation and gratefulness. Connor and I share the same name. In that name, we have a story. Stories that are incomparable. Stories that are spent at the hospital versus in the classroom at UMass Amherst. Friends who are doctors versus friends from high school track. Connor sharing his name was a reminder that I am very fortunate. I am able-bodied and healthy.
The FTK event, although short, was critical in contributing to my appreciation for life. I am very fortunate and I should appreciate my life and live it to its fullest. With that being said, I should also continue to help those who are not as fortunate as I am. Because at the end of the day, we are all human and we should all care for one another.