“We’ve helped him learn to walk, talk, and get back on track,” said Colette Forcier, Assistant Director of The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “He is truly a champion.”
With this information in hand, Kean University stepped up to the plate of responsibility. This year’s Kean Dance Marathon, also known as KDM, decided to dance with a cause, that cause being Jude Siperstein. Not only is Jude 2016’s New Jersey Miracle Network Hospitals’ Representative and Ambassador, but he is also considered “The Mayor of Children’s Specialized Hospital.”
Jude’s condition of meningomyelitis, an inflamed spinal cord, which began with something as simple as an ear infection, did not only threaten his ability to function regularly day-to-day but his life in its entirety. An aggressive round of steroids successfully stopped the swelling and made Jude stable, but he could still not lift his head. When he had first arrived at Children’s Specialized Hospital, a full recovery was not guaranteed. Over the next 12 weeks due to physical, occupational and recreational therapies, he began to take his “first” steps.
“Jude’s progress has been a miracle,” said Boright.
The Kean community has spent the greater part of the last year trying to reach its goal of $30,000. Through fundraising and promotion, Kean University has been planning precisely for the big day of Friday, April 15, 2016. Downs Hall became flooded with eager students starting at noon, some sporting Greek letters across their chests, some representing Kean University, but there was as overwhelming amount of KDM t-shirts, exemplifying the spirit of charity and community across all of Kean University.
Downs Hall was packed with concessions for the dedicated dancers that came to participate in KDM. T-shirts, water bottles and buffet foods such as sandwiches and bagels were available to the students. So many students crowded into Downs Hall to dance the day and night away in honor of Jude and all ill children who are still being treated at the Children’s Specialized Hospital.
[KDM] really helps build character,” said the Greek Senate President, Whitney Wanton, senior double major in communication media and Spanish, “it also gives a different perspective that there are kids who are doing a lot worse than we are.”
KDM kicked off with a two-song performance from the Kean Gospel Choir (KGC). Many performances followed KGC, including a performance by DP3, a band led by Kean University student David Paul, as well as a demonstration of Dance Hall Aerobics taught by Kean University graduate student Laneesha Bacchus.
Periodic interruptions and speeches from the patients of the Children’s Specialized Hospital and their families allowed the KDM participants to have a peek into the lives of the children and their amazing recoveries, as well as the life-changing work being performed by the personnel at the Children’s Specialized Hospital.
“Hearing the stories of these kids will make an advocate out of anybody,” said Michael Illycn, junior marketing major, after he listened to a patient’s experience.
Jude’s story sent chills through the crowd at KDM. The presence of such a strong little boy had a notable impact on those present for KDM. The crowd was silent as Boright told her baby boy’s story, and it was a quick reminder that those lucky enough to reach college age took so much for granted when growing up.
At the conclusion of KDM, an outstanding amount of $38,014.24 was raised for the Children’s Specialized Hospital. Kean University has maintained the record with the most money raised at the dance marathon for consecutive years.
KDM is already being planned for next year. The official date of the event will be Friday, April 14, 2017, and the new fundraising goal is $40,000.
The overwhelming success of this year’s KDM has set the standard remarkably high for the years to come. The Children’s Specialized Hospital, Jude and his family, as well as the other patients in the hospital’s care extend sincere thanks to the students that participated in KDM.
A huge stride was made in bettering the children’s lives because of the dedicated and caring student body of Kean University.