One of the most incredible nights of my entire 21 years was this past weekend at RebelTHON, our dance marathon here at Ole Miss! Schools all across the nation put on their dancing shoes to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the year. We began our dancing at 3pm and didn’t end until 3am (way past my bedtime lol!)
Each hour began with a morale dance led by board directors and morale captains; it was the closest I’ve ever been to being in a flashmob and I LOVED it!!! After that, we would take a knee (no sitting allowed for all 12 hours) and hear the story of a Miracle Kid and his or her family. It was unbelievably inspiring hearing the pure joy these kids had despite the unimaginable hardships that they have encountered. It truly put #FTK (for the kids) into perspective for us.
We had fundraising challenges throughout the night, and I was so happy to raise $40 in one hour for the Kingston challenge in the second hour! He was the most bubbly and energetic kid ever, and ringing the gong in his honor was so exciting! Later in the night he ran up to me and grabbed my legs in the biggest hug and wouldn’t let go. My heart was bursting!
Around 10pm, I had a gut feeling I was supposed to stop dancing for a bit and go over to the ball pit we had to talk to some of the kids playing in it. I didn’t know why, but I went with it and headed over. I soon learned that one of the girls, Malia, was a patient at Blair E Batson Children’s Hospital, and she was also from VICKSBURG! She was so thrilled to meet Miss Vicksburg and is a big supporter of the pageant. We spent the next 2 hours together, she pied me in the face, and we danced the night away! I am so inspired by Malia, and I cannot wait to see her again next time I am in the River City! Pie video is on my Facebook!
Pure exhaustion and delirium had set in, but knowing that what we were feeling was nothing compared to what the kids felt when they endured things like chemotherapy was great motivation to keep going. Our fundraising goal was $225,oo0, a $50,000 increase from what was raised last year. However, at 3am the total was revealed of $265,912.30 which was nearly $40,000 above our goal!!! It was an unbelievably incredible feeling know a group of college students raised a quarter of a million dollars for such an amazing cause!
I’m so thankful to be a tiny tiny tiny part of the life changing work that goes on at Blair E Batson as a Miss America titleholder and as an Ole Miss student. Thank you to all of my fellow Rebels and the amazing Miracle families of Batson for inspiring me more than I even knew possible! I’m already so excited for next year!