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Purdue University Senior Receives 2019 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2019 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here

Hometown: Bartlett, Illinois

Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Management; Minor in Psychology

Dance Marathon Involvement: Over the course of my four years involved with Purdue University Dance Marathon, I have collectively raised $5,921 for Riley Hospital for Children and served as Morale Color Captain (2017) and the Stewardship Executive (2018).

Campus/Community Involvement:

Kappa Delta Sorority – I was involved in various aspects during my time within PUDM. One area to highlight is I was heavily involved in planning and executing our annual philanthropy event in the spring.

Director of IT and Communications for the Panhellenic Association – I created the Potential New Member informational booklet that they used during Primary Recruitment and was the person behind the computer for all things Recruitment. We have a little over 1,000 women go through Primary Recruitment in the Fall and have 18 chapters on campus that participate as well.

Old Masters Host – Old Masters is a long-standing tradition at Purdue in which they bring back 10 distinguished alumni for a weekend of programming. I was one of 50 hosts selected from ~300 applications. I spent the weekend leading around Dr. Scott Niswonger and hearing stories about his time at Purdue and how that helped him in his career.

Awards/Recognition: I received the first Ryan White Spirit of Dance Marathon Award that is presented by the Purdue University Dance Marathon Alumni Association to a senior member of the Executive Board and is voted on by the entire Executive Board. I am the recipient of various scholarships including the Presidential Scholarship, Purdue General Scholarship, Provost Summer Scholarship, Alumni General Scholarship, Purdue Summer Scholarship, Big Move Short Term Scholarship, and Nancy Handel Study Abroad Scholarship periodically throughout my time at Purdue.

Post-Graduation Plans: I will be starting as a Program Leader with Booster in the Chicago Area in July! As a Program Leader, I will be working in elementary schools helping to put on large scale fundraising programs from start to finish. While working at each school I will also be teaching them the importance of character through different lessons. While serving as a Project Leader, I will also be going through their L3 Leadership Program to develop personally and professionally!

Purdue University Dance Marathon Executive Board 2018

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

In 2018, the Presidential Board introduced a few new positions to our structure, I was selected and entrusted with one of those positions. I was selected for the Stewardship Executive and was able to spend the entire year researching, networking, and brainstorming some best practices that our program could implement. In the 13 years prior, each position was just left to do their own stewarding, there was no one to tell them what was best or how to go about thanking various groups of people. In 2018, I was able to be the thought leader behind it all. My personal contribution that I’m most proud of, comes from that. At the end of the year, I no longer needed to remind people to thank their respective beneficiaries, I didn’t need to constantly check in on them and see if an email was sent, or the card had been delivered; they had all learned the importance of treating everyone appropriately. I was able to lay enough ground work that the position can only go up from here, there are enough resources for the future of Stewardship to build on that will only benefit relationships and marathons in the future. I cannot wait to see where the future of PUDM will take this position.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

Dance Marathon has taught me how to be a more confident leader: more confident in myself and in those around me as we work towards a common goal. Dance Marathon came into my life at the most opportune time. I was at a crossroads having just stepped out of a leadership position, and I was looking to find the right organization to pour my heart into. Dance Marathon pushed me to the best version of myself. The leaders within saw qualities I didn’t see in myself, and saw potential in me, and worked to help me to recognize and love those qualities. I learned the importance of meeting someone halfway and checking in on the person that they were and the life that they were living rather than just cutting to the agenda for the day. Dance Marathon showed me that when you have a group full of passionate, driven student leaders, you can change the world. It gave me a glimpse into the future where these student leaders like myself, were the change makers and the world leaders. Through Dance Marathon I have become more confident in the work that I produce, knowing that validation isn’t necessary for everything because the fact that you have been entrusted with this project is validation itself. I have also learned how to take constructive criticism so that I can learn and produce even better work; I wouldn’t be where I am today without Dance Marathon.

Amber with her chairs at the 2018 Dance Marathon.

How have you seen your Dance Marathon’s fundraising make an impact at your local CMN Hospital?

I had the opportunity to see PUDM fund a treatment that gave Tyler Trent more time than he ever thought he would have on this Earth. Purdue University Dance Marathon donates to Pediatric Cancer Research at the Herman B. Wells Center. PUDM had the opportunity to fund the Precision Genomics treatment at Riley Hospital for Children through our donations, and this was one of the treatments that Tyler received at his time at Riley. Not only was this Boilermaker receiving treatments at Riley while camping out for Football games, he was also a Committee Member for PUDM. PUDM’s fundraising will continue to provide kids with the opportunities to be Boilermakers, it will continue to fund miracles for so many families. We are blessed to have had Tyler as a Boilermaker and a PUDMer, he continues to inspire us all.

First day of Old Masters, posing with the #TylerStrong ribbon on the Boilermaker Special.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Students should get involved with their Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus because it will connect them to some of the most hard-working, driven, empathetic, passionate students on their campus. It will bring a sense of harmony to their college career as you all come together and fight for a common cause. As college students we often forget that we can put our textbooks to the side, and our paper doesn’t have to be done in that exact moment. Dance Marathon allows you to take a break from that life. We all have the potential to change the world one day in whatever major you identify with, but Dance Marathon allows us to start making that difference now.

Amber and her fellow executive board members awaiting the reveal of the fundraising total during the 2018 Dance Marathon closing ceremonies.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

When I was 11-years-old my entire world changed. My dad passed away and I, unfortunately, became numb to my surroundings for a couple years to follow. Prior to my dad passing away, he battled alcoholism fiercely. It took over not only his entire life, but mine as well. I had to grow up really fast as I learned how to live a “home life”, a “school life”, and a “dance life”. No one knew about the home life, friends at school just thought that I really loved to dance—which I did, but there were other reasons why I was standing at the studio doors waiting for the owner to unlock them, and the last dancer to leave the studio at night. I lived at my studio so that my dad didn’t have to get behind the wheel after a few drinks and put us both at risk. I learned to keep a smile on my face at all times so that no one would get upset. This is not to make my dad sound like a monster, he was not at all. He was an incredibly kind, loving, friend that would take the shirt off his back if someone needed it, his disease just turned him into a whole different person. There is a lot of my childhood that I don’t remember. I have had to block it out of my memory because there are fights, or the distinct smell of alcohol associated with them, and it hurts my entire being to go back to that place and remember them. No child should ever have to choose to forget their childhood. That’s why I dance. No child should have a childhood that is full of fights or diseases that they cannot control. They deserve to be able to look back on their childhood and smile. I, personally, participate in Dance Marathon so that more kids can dance for the enjoyment andthe escape from the world, not just to escape what’s happening around them.

Amber with her mother and brother.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $250 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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