In November 2008, I had a friend who knew Matt Patrick, the radio talk show host who was the popular voice of Akron at the time.
When January came around, my friend asked me a special favor, and that was to help him with this radiothon that Akron Children’s Hospital puts on every year to help raise money for the kids and their families who can’t afford medical expenses. I agreed and was looking forward to it.
Both of us went to the basketball games of our hometown and at halftime we would announce what we were doing, what we were raising money for, and letting people know about the radiothon.
Mind you, before agreeing to all of this, I was terrified of the hospital. I didn’t like anything about it and didn’t want anything to do with being in a hospital, especially with sick kids.
My friend had promised me that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital, just help raise money. Weeks went by, and on Feb. 11, 2009, my friend got sick and couldn’t go to the hospital to drop the money off.
He asked me if I would do it. Knowing the fear I had of the hospital, he told me I didn’t need to stay, just drop it off, and it would be fine.
When I rode up the escalator into the atrium lobby of Children’s Hospital, I was so nervous. Once I reached the top of the escalator, it was craziness. There were people on phone banks, sitting behind tables, running around trying to keep the process going, lots and lots of noise, friendly faces, and everything that I wasn’t expecting.
The scenery and atmosphere were so amazing. I enjoyed myself so much within the 30 minutes of being there, I decided to stay for a few hours and just watch the show.
After a few hours went by, I ended up asking one of the workers who was in charge of the radiothon, if they needed any help. She told me to come back tomorrow and they could put me somewhere.
Driving home that night I was amazed in myself that I was actually going to go back for a second day to the place I was terrified to go to for all these years. At the end of the radiothon in 2009, I ended up being there for all 3 days and those 3 days changed my life forever.
A year later, my friend had graduated and moved far away for college, so I didn’t think I was going to be a part of the radiothon. Until I realized how much it had impacted me the year before and not being a part of it for a second year just didn’t make sense to me.
So I spent a whole weekend trying to think of strategies and ways I could raise money on my own. I put ads in the community newsletter, spoke at halftime during the basketball games, made baked goods, sold hearts for $1, and took donations in between.
After 2 months of working hard to raise money for radiothon, I went to the change bandit bash and dropped my “loot” off and anxiously waited to see how much I had raised.
At the end of the night, I had raised $834 all by myself. I was so proud of myself and couldn’t be more stoked about kicking off the amazing weekend with a great start like that.
I had completed my second year of radiothon and it was an experience I will never forget.
March 2010 was the month that my parents finally started pushing me to figure out a major for college, since I was graduating high school that spring. Up to that point, I wasn’t really looking at colleges or even had the slightest clue in what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
I knew I loved helping people, and supporting people in their darkest and hardest times. I was interested in learning about the human body but knew for a fact that I did not want to work in a hospital, so being a nurse was out of the question.
As I got closer to graduation, it was time for me to make a decision on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Reflecting on what I wanted to do with my life for a career choice, radiothon just kept coming back to my mind.
I remembered all of the stories that were told about the kids who had amazing miracles happen to them and others who didn’t. I remember the families speaking about how much Akron Children’s Hospital has impacted their life because it saved their child.
I remembered how excited and passionate I was during those months preparing for radiothon and the weekend of radiothon. I had never felt so much compassion for something in my whole entire life. It was a feeling that was indescribable and something that I held dear to my heart.
Aug. 29, 2010, was my first day as a college student at the University of Akron – majoring in nursing!
All of this time I was terrified to be in a hospital and never wanted to work in one. After being a part of radiothon for 2 years, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.
The Have a Heart, Do your Part radiothon has made such an impact on my life. Everyone who puts it together – Nicci and the amazing staff and volunteers behind her, 98.1 WKDD, Keith Kennedy who was been there and has been a phenomenal talk show host, the businesses who donate and raise large amounts of money and give it to the kids, and most importantly the kids of Akron Children’s Hospital – make the radiothon something to look forward to every year.
Today is Feb. 12, 2014. I am in my junior year of nursing school and expect to graduate May 2015. I am so proud that this year marks my fifth year in being a part of the radiothon.
Everyone may think it’s just a 3-day radiothon event that everyone else puts on throughout the year. What people don’t understand is that it isn’t like your ordinary radiothon. This a such a special event that so many special people get to be a part of.
Akron Children’s is a hospital that not only save lives, but changes them. It’s changed mine for the better and has given me drive and motivation to push hard in nursing school because one day, I want to make an impact on the kids and their families like they have mine.
Let’s enjoy another fantastic weekend filled with laughs, smiles, tears, joy, comfort and all emotions possible. Come together, enjoy the good in what everyone has worked so hard for in the past few months making this radiothon happen, and let’s do it for the kids!