Nobody Said You Couldn’t Fly

Today marks 100 days until Ball State Dance Marathon, so I felt it was appropriate to finally put into words my inspiration and motivation to fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) and Riley Hospital for Children.

In high school, I worked in Child Watch at the Yorktown YMCA and met families and children in my community who I still babysit for and stay connected with. One of these children is named Aria, who I met and instantly fell in love with. I started caring for Sweet Aria and her older sister, Daisy, and quickly began watching their parents advocate for both of them through unimaginable circumstances.

Sweet Aria was born with a rare, genetic blood disorder called Fanconi anemia (FA). This created anomalies in nearly every organ of her body, led to her not having thumbs, blind-deafness, and short stature. Aria overcame doctors’ prognoses and predictions simply by surviving birth, but continued to prove them wrong for nearly 5 years. Something I remember her mother, Rachael, saying multiple times was “nobody said you couldn’t fly.” This hit home for me as I watched Aria walk when they said she never would, smile at the sound of her Mommy’s voice when they said she never would, and laugh in response to tickles despite her blind-deafness and limited verbal expression.

2 years ago, Aria passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of her family. Sweet Aria’s short life impacted me in several ways. She taught me that overcoming the limits placed upon you by others is the best way to motivate others to do the same. She also inspired me to be an advocate for others. With these two lessons in mind, I decided to pursue a major in the healthcare field and to go beyond what it meant to be a nursing major.

Over the course of my time at BSU this far, I have been accepted to the school of nursing, created a pre-dance/movement therapy major through the Honors College, and added the pre-medical coursework in order to eventually become a neonatal health care provider. To impact the lives of children like Aria in the role of a health care professional is my ultimate career goal. I have also been competing in locals for the Miss Indiana Scholarship Program, in which I get to represent a platform of my choosing. The platform I created is “Fighting FA: Advocating for Individuals with Rare Diseases.” Through brainstorming with other advocates, researching connections between cancer and FA, and promoting the FARF, I am able to communicate to others what FA is and Aria’s story. My main hope for this platform is to create empathy in our community by spreading Aria’s story when others may not be able to relate to her in any way, and to raise awareness and support for the FARF and Aria’s Army.

Another aspect of the Miss Indiana Scholarship Program, as a part of the Miss America Organization, is the opportunity to fundraise for CMN Hospitals. Through this and fundraising for Riley as a Dance Marathon committee member and dancer, I have raised nearly $2,000 for hospitals locally and nationally that treat children, including those with FA.

My love for Sweet Aria inspired me to raise money for these Hospitals and her life continues to be the driving force behind my personal and professional goals. I am blessed to be an advocate through these avenues, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Would you consider donating to my CMN page? It would mean the world to me and to children like Aria. Thank you for your time and consideration.