Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Angela's Speech Given at the Ritz Saturday Night

After we sent the bikers off Saturday morning and then attended a graduation party, we came home for a couple of hours before heading back to help at the Poker Run and I decided I was going to give a little speech about Christi and her love of dance after all. Therefore, I sat down and quickly typed up the following. Although my hands were shaking terribly, by the grace of God, I did not cry and my voice at least was steady!

Our daughter, Christi Thomas, started dancing with Dance Unlimited when she was 4 years old. She had a glorious year and was happy about returning for her second year, so when she was five, we headed back up those stairs to start her first lesson for the year. That’s when we learned that Christi’s mother (smile, oh that would be me!) made a big mistake and had arrived one week early for class. Although I called Mary Jo in a panic that day, and then was very embarrassed upon learning my mistake, I am so glad I took her a week early because that was the only trip up those stairs she made that entire year, since she was diagnosed with cancer a week later.

Four months into Christ’s treatment, back in 2002, treatment failure was declared in Columbus and this brilliant man beside me did not accept the suggestion of transitioning Christi over to Hospice, but instead found a hospital in NYC with experimental treatments willing to take on Christi’s case, so we loaded up, left Tiffin and moved into the Ronald McDonald House of NYC where we lived for nine months. One night that spring, when Christi was five years old, she was dancing around out little room doing little ballerina twirls. I said, “Oh look, my beautiful ballerina. Show me first position.” Christi responded, “First position? I don’t remember first position,” and she took off dancing toward the restroom. Shayne looked over at me and said, “We paid how much for dance lessons and she doesn’t even remember first position?” We have laughed about that countless time because, you see to us Dance Unlimited means NOTHING about first position, but everything about their position on FAMILY.

It has been the continued love, support and compassion we have noticed since Christi first started taking classes in 2001. We will forever be grateful for the very special relationships and love shared with us by Mary Jo and Bob, and all of the families and teachers. Many sent cards, gifts, money and prayers when we desperately needed help. We will forever be grateful to be a part of your special dance family.

In 2003, when Christi was six, and we had been living in the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House for a few months when I received an email from Mary Jo informing me that she needed the girls measurements for their recital costumes. I told Mary Jo that it was six months away and I didn’t know when we would be back or quite frankly if Christi would even still be alive in six months. Mary Jo informed me that she did not care, the girls were a part of Dance Unlimited, she wanted them in the recital and she needed their measurements for their costumes asap. I know you don’t mess with Mary Jo; you just do what she says (She’s like a mom to all of us and really knows best.) so I sat my laptop down, told Christi’s I’d be back as soon as I found a tape measure and I took off running around the hospital asking countless nurses for a tape measure until I finally found one who had one in her purse. (Whew!) I vividly remember running back and taking Christi’s measurements at the hospital while she was receiving a blood transfusion. As I was doing this, she was telling her nurse that she was a dancer and will get to wear a pretty outfit on a real stage. Mary Jo’s kindness in getting those costumes ordered – which they actually wore, will forever be treasured. I know she did not need to include the girls and once again it just demonstrated to us the importance of family Mary Jo and Bob have for their dancers.

In December of 2005, I purchased Christi’s first (and last) pair of pointe shoes. She was very, very excited about them and after her first practice with them in January of 2006, she wanted to take them with her to CHOP where she was enrolled in a new clinical trial so she could show them to her nurses and doctors, which she proudly did and which she displayed beside the television in her hospital room. Many times last year, we traveled with her pointe shoes because they made her so happy. I often hung them from her IV pole because they were a great conversation starter and they made her smile. I also had them placed in her coffin because they were so special to Christi and they made her feel so normal and so happy.

At that point in time, January of 06, Christi’s health took a turn for the worse and many loving cards, pictures and letters started arriving in Philadelphia from her dance teacher, Megan, and her jazz and ballet classmates. She really treasured all of those, showed them to her nurses, and would have me hang them all up in her room so she could see them from her bed.

Shayla and Hannah Last September, from inside of Christi’s hospital bed in Philadelphia, where I planted myself knowing it’d be our last moments together, I taped a picture Megan had sent to the rails of Christi’s bed. Her eyesight was starting to fail and I wanted her to be able to see the love of her dance family surrounding her. It was also at that time that I sent out an email to Bob asking if after Christi made her Heavenly debut, if he’d please escort her body one final time by serving as her pall bearer. It only seemed appropriate to us that a dear member of our family should give our little ballerina, one final lift to her resting place.

Bob and Mary Jo, I have been avoiding you all week because I haven’t wanted to break down and cry and to tell you how much we are going to miss you. Thank you for showering us with your love and support over the past four years. It is truly appreciated and we wish you a glorious retirement.


At 11/6/07 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are so amazing! Angela, your post made me cry (as do most) have such a way with words. Christi had such an incredible life with you, and you embraced her life, and now her memory. I wish I could give you a hug in real life!

At 11/6/07 11:14 AM, Anonymous Trine said...

what a beautiful speech! And what lovely pictures. You sure have so many wonderful pictures of your daugthers. I know, the weekend and the week have been hard for you all. I remember last year pictures, and I wish Christi could dance this year too. The camera picture of Christi and Kaetlyn you posted earlier it so cute. When it is taken if I may ask? Looking forward to see you share more pictures... Angela, I pray for you and Shayne and Shayla that this week will be a better one.
Christi is not forgotten.
Love to you all
from a faithfull reader,

At 11/6/07 11:39 AM, Blogger MommyJaden said...

Angela ~ I have been catching up on all the wonderful posts and looking at all the beautiful photos of Christi, Shayla and the wonderful recital. I wanted to share this with you as I prepare my own 5 year old for her very first dance recital this Friday (with a broken arm no less!) We were at the Mall of America yesterday for some shopping and in the rotunda there was a dance recital going on. My daughter was awe struck and we watched the show for quite some time ... we went down to the main floor and wanted to sit and watch when we saw 3 of the largest Alex's Lemonade Stands I have seen. You see - the dance classes were raising money for Alex's Lemonade Stand with the tickets sold ... my daughter gave her gumball money to the cause and smiled proudly ... suddenyl her wants and needs dissappeared and she mentioned Christi and how she loved to dance and how Jaden loved it too ... thank you Angela for sharing so much of what you are going through - it is heart breaking and so unfair and my prayers remain with all of you daily ... your Christi has not only brought me closer to my faith but I also hug my family tighter all the time and never once will complain about "One More Book Mom" ... or a quarter for a gunball being donated for a cause!

God Bless you all!

Love from my family to yours!

Rebekah Clark
Prior Lake, MN

At 11/6/07 11:56 AM, Blogger Denise Ward said...

I loved your speech--it made me cry. I'm so glad your family has had the support of such wonderful people.

At 11/6/07 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a little daily quote book placed on my dresser which this morning read the following...

"All we can take with us to heaven is what we leave behind in the lives we touch"

...i thought of Christi immediately, and how she much be so enriched in heaven judging by the amount that she touched so many lives (and continues to do so) in her time here on earth.

Love Rebecca (England, UK)

At 11/6/07 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These people from Dance Unlimited are truly Angels on Earth...May God bless them all...


At 11/6/07 2:15 PM, Anonymous Lena said...

Oh wow a really great speech you did at the Ritz.Awesome Pictures..

Much love from germany

At 11/6/07 2:36 PM, Blogger Olivia said...

What an absolutely beautiful speech, Angela!

Thank you for sharing.

Much love,

At 11/6/07 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shayla, congratulations on your dance recital! You look great! Looks like you're having so much fun. Your mom and dad must be so proud. And Christi must be so proud of everything you've done.

Angela, that was a beautiful speech, it gave me a lump in my throat.

Crying over my keyboard...seeing that photo of Shayla tending to her big sis's grave just broke my heart. It's been such an emotional week for you all. But with all these Christi reminders, I can see quite clearly how this special gal never stopped living. She never gave up on life despite the struggles. Dance recitals, theater camp, on and on---Christi loved life! I will never forget this amazing kid.


At 11/6/07 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful, beautiful speech Angela, I am sure everyone who heard it was as touched as I am reading it. Your pride in your daughters and your constancy as a family is so tangible from what you write. Thank you for sharing it.

At 11/6/07 6:21 PM, Blogger HeatherB said...

An absoultely perfect speech- not that I'm a bit suprised.

May God wrap His loving arms around you and give you His comfort!

With love and prayers,

At 11/6/07 9:03 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Angela, my heart breaks for you and Shayne. I thought of you and Christi constantly throughout the weekend,as I spent it at my daughter's recital. How you managed to get through the weekend with such grace amazes me, you are a very special family. Thank you for continuing to let all of us into your lives to share your experiences, I know that reading your words makes me a better mom. I couldn't watch my daughter's performances without tears in my eyes and a special appreciation for all the joy I am blessed with. My prayers have been with you constantly and will continue. I'm sure Christi is on her toes twirling with joy in Heaven, cheering you on for getting through such a tough weekend.
With love, thanks and prayers,

At 11/6/07 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on making it through the speech and for being able to even write it! I am so happy that Dance Unlimited blessed your lives so very much!

The world is blessed by having such people in the dance and teaching areas of life! God bless Bob and Mary Jo (and of course you Angela - you inspire me to be a better teacher everyday!)

At 11/6/07 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine what strenth it took to not break down during your speech.. but with Christi as your guardian angel, anything is possible! You are such a great writer and I'm sure there weren't many dry eyes while you were speaking on saturday night. Christi looks so beautiful and full of life in all of her dance pictures. She certainly took the line "live life to the fullest" to a whole new level. She lived more in her short 9 years, 4 months than most people do in a full life time. Christi is so very loved and missed by many. Stay Strong!

At 12/6/07 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angela...what an absolutely amazing speech. It made me incredibly emotional just reading it. When it comes to words, you are truly Gifted. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it. With Prayers for you all from Australia xxx

At 12/6/07 7:18 PM, Blogger 4floridadillons said...

i sat at my computer with tears streaming down my face are an amazing mom with an amazing family...
i am so sorry you have to go through this pain of losing your daughter...
thinking of and praying for your family


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