Across the nation, more than 300 dance marathons are hosted annually to benefit the 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Belmont Hill is among eight high schools and 12 colleges in New England that have taken on this fundraising effort for Boston Children’s Hospital. In its third year, the Belmont Hill event has raised more than $143,000 for Boston Children’s Hospital Every Child Fund. Earlier this fall, Belmont Hill’s PwaP was awarded the “The Step Up Award” for the most significant increase in funding at the annual Northeast Dance Marathon Collaboration in Boston.
Boston Children’s Hospital patient families, “Miracle Families” were welcomed to PwaP with red carpet treatment for an evening of family activities and dancing. In addition to the massive dance party, guests also enjoyed karaoke, inflatable games, a photo booth, cornhole, ping-pong, a mechanical bull, arts and crafts, and refreshments at Belmont Hill’s Jordan Athletic Center. Upwards of 1,200 guests attended, including ten Boston Children’s patients and their families, students, and 80 adults who chaperoned and helped set up and break down at the conclusion of the evening.
One of the patients in attendance included 12-year old Eva Gambon. Her mother, Jill Gambon, shared their family’s experience as a “Miracle Family” to thank participants for attending and fundraising.
“Our story starts 12 years ago at an 18-week anatomy scan,” said Jill. “The cardiologist told us our baby daughter had hypoplastic left heart syndrome - a severe congenital heart defect.
He told us we had three options: compassionate care (take the baby home to pass away without intervention), medical termination, or a series of three surgeries. In a matter of an hour, I had gone from planning a baby shower to planning a possible funeral.
Within two days we had set up an appointment with a cardiologist – we had a small sliver of hope that she would survive. While her type of surgery was among the most difficult, Boston Children’s Hospital had the highest success rate in the nation.
Since then, Eva has had five open-heart and two closed-heart surgeries and more cardiac procedures than I can count. Children’s is like a second home to us. The staff made me feel cared for and not just like a number. The doctors and nurses treat the kids with the same dignity and respect that the parents receive.
I have seen people from all over the world come to Children’s for life-saving treatments often not provided in other places. I have personally met families whose children were given no hope, told to go home and enjoy what’s left, then transfer to Boston and are now thriving.
Throughout all of these procedures, Eva has still managed to have a normal childhood: going to school, playing with friends, and her all-time favorite activity – DANCE! As an accomplished ballerina, she has enjoyed performing in many Nutcrackers.
Our story and countless others are why your fundraising efforts are so important. I know from being a part of fundraising myself, that one does not always have an idea of where your money is going and who it is helping. We are here to put a face to it. I’d like to thank Children’s Hospital for allowing us to represent the Miracle Network and for all of you at Belmont Hill for having us tonight.”
In the weeks leading up to the event, the support and enthusiasm seen daily on campus were evidenced in the sea of students wearing white and blue PwaP logo sweatshirts. Though this was a school-wide effort, a dedicated group of Belmont Hill students was central to its success. “I would like to single out the core group of boys who worked tirelessly nearly every single day since the start of school year to organize, plan, and pull off this event,” said Director of Community Service Donna David. “Colin Vallis and Thomas Ryan led the way, along with the support team of Luca Pontone, Lawson Morris, Jack McHugh, Bobby Manion, and Emmett Greenwood. These guys all deserve congratulations for a job well done!”
Belmont Hill is grateful for and would like to acknowledge the generous corporate sponsorship from its top supporter, Cambridge Savings Bank. Gold Level supporters also include: Adam Richins Photography, Anna’s Taqueria, Boston Sweats, The Brown Dog, Comella’s, Crystal Rock, Fiorella’s Express, The Holland Companies, Hood, The Local Kitchen and Drinks, Neillio’s, and Panera Bread. Silver Level supporters include: Coca-Cola, D’Agostino’s Deli, Empire Party Rental, J.P. Licks, PartyVision, People’s United Bank, and Sodexo.