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Renata Opoczynski on the Dance Marathon

Written by Renata Opoczynski
February 8, 2010

On February 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. hundreds of SU students will fill up Campion Ballroom, staying on their feet for 16 hours in support of Seattle Children’s Hospital.  I will be joining them for the third time as advisor for Seattle University’s Dance Marathon, an organization I am committed to because of the wonderful care I myself received from a Children’s Hospital years ago.

One day as a teenager, I was relaxing with my family and friends when I inexplicably stood up, fainted, and had a seizure. I was unresponsive for quite some time and was rushed to the hospital. After a battery of tests, the doctors could not find anything wrong with me. They told my family that many girls experience a seizure at some point during adolescence, and despite the unusual severity of mine, everything would be okay. Unfortunately, I had another seizure a few months later, then a few days later, and then another and another. Over the next 7 months, I suffered over 60 seizures. 

When my neurologist could not find a cause for my seizures, he referred me to a specialist at Dallas  

 

Renata Opoczynski is assistant director of student activities.

 Children’s Hospital where I underwent regular treatment and a barrage of testing over the next few months.  Because of the groundbreaking research and shared resources of the Children’s Network, I was diagnosed with a seizure reactive brain scar, and was able to get the treatment I needed. Throughout my time at Dallas Children’s Hospital, all of the doctors and staff helped put my family at ease, made some potentially scary and stressful tests less so, and made me feel both special and loved. 

My appreciation for the amazing care and support I received as a patient at Dallas Children’s Hospital inspired me to get involved and give back to the larger network of Children’s hospitals.  As an undergraduate student at the University of Florida, I participated in my first Dance Marathon and loved it!  There was so much going on with live entertainment, music, games, activities, food and families sharing their story.  The feeling of community and love were so intensely inspiring, I knew then that I wanted to continue working with Dance Marathons. 

When I came to Seattle University many years later I felt Dance Marathon would be a perfect match for the university’s mission and values, and so I recruited a team to start one on campus.  After much planning, effort, and community support, the inaugural Dance Marathon was held in April 2008.

For many children living below the poverty line or without health insurance, the kind of care I received would be impossible without Seattle Children’s Uncompensated Care Fund.  Dance Marathon donates every penny raised to help ensure that all children receive first-rate medical care regardless of a family’s background or ability to pay. To learn more, feel free to contact me at opoczynr@seattleu.edu.  If you would like to donate , please visit http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/participant/renata or stop by STCN 360.