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 www.ChristiThomas.com 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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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Just Words on Paper

Despite the fact that Shayla's Big Brown came in last at the Belmont and the horse picked to be last won, the evening improved greatly upon arriving at the Ritz! (I'll upload a slide show tomorrow.) Surrounded by sweet friends, it was glorious to watch the year-long hard work of so many talented dancers! I can say that this year it was easier to watch Christi's friends perform - not easy, but easier than last year!

Many asked me how I got through the Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship presentation at the end of the evening. I told them I told myself I was just reading words on paper; it wasn't really about my daughter's life and death. THAT allowed me to get through it. I think everything went fine and we were very happy to award $2,000 last night!! Hannah won the $1,000 and $250 book scholarships went to Alexa, Lindsey, Megan and Allison. (Hannah's essay was so touching, I had to include parts of it in my presentation. See below.) Congrats, ladies! BEST WISHES!!


Angela's Speech:
Some of you may remember our little dancer, Christi Thomas, who died last year as a 5th grader and as a Dance Unlimited student. Although we knew Christi would never again have the chance to dance on this stage she loved so much, to graduate, or to go to college and we would never have the opportunity to pay for all of that as we truly would have liked, we realized we could help others (like Christi) achieve their dreams even though we could no longer do anything to help Christi. Therefore, days before Christi’s death in a Philadelphia hospital, following a four year battle with cancer, we established the Christi Thomas Memorial Fund, in a concerted effort to memorialize her all too short life.

One of the ways we wanted to keep her memory alive was by offering a $1,000 scholarship to a Dance Unlimited student each year because Christi loved her Dance Unlimited friends and teachers so very, very much. Last year, we awarded $2,250 in scholarships to Dance Unlimited Seniors and nearly $10,000 to students in Seneca and Sandusky Counties.

The Scholarship Committee, consisting of five individuals, determined this year’s recipient based upon letters of recommendation, an application and an essay – trying to determine who best represents Christi’s spirit. Let me tell you, as one of the five committee members, it was a very difficult task. These are amazing young women. Additionally, this year, because the selection was so difficult, and as a way to memorialize Christi’s unique love of books, we added a $250.00 book scholarship for some of those applicants.

Having an IQ higher than Albert Einstein’s, Christi was an avid reader, typically having a book going in every room in our home. One of the hardest things I ever did in my life took place this winter when I had to clear out her bedroom. (I must admit though her ballet teacher’s treasured pointe shoes, which she had all of the girls in her class sign and then she presented them to Christi on this stage back in 2003 when Christi was too ill to dance, remain hanging in her old bedroom…. I just couldn’t take the precious shoes down.) Many of her beloved books still had book marks in them, as the curtain closed on her own chapter in life, with her books remaining unread. In order to keep myself going during those most challenging days of clearing out her room I would often say to myself, “If it is she who dies with the most books wins, Christi won!” I hope that the $250 book scholarships, we are about to award, will remind these fine young women of Christi and her love of reading and learning and dancing.

The $250 book scholarships go to: Alexa H., Allison G., Lindsey S. and Megan T.

This year’s $1000 scholarship winner was actually one of Christi’s dance teachers. In her essay this individual wrote:

(PIC: Hannah - right, performs at Christi's 2007 Tea Party, a fundraiser for this scholarship!)One of the final and most important lessons I learned while at Dance Unlimited came from my student, Christi Thomas. I first met Christi in 2006 when I began assisting for her ballet and jazz classes. Had I not been aware of her medical history, I would never have fathomed I was working with an ill child. Though young in age, Christi taught me that there is no such thing as a bad day, but simply unfortunate circumstances. Despite her grueling medical treatments, she continued to enter the studio with a smile on her face and the determination to perform her best.

Christi did not have to smile. In fact, it would have been very understandable if she had frowned, complained, or even not danced at all, but she chose to keep dancing and to keep moving forward. I believe we owe it to her memory to keep this positive outlook alive. Though I certainly fail at times, Christi’s optimistic personality is something I strive to emulate today. When teaching or dancing after what seems to be a stressful day, I sometimes find my eyes wandering over to the spot at the barre where Christi always stood. Remembering that enchanting smile and energy, I remind myself of the positive attitude Christi demonstrated throughout her life time and work to make a conscious effort to improve my own outlook.

Christi’s little sister, Shayla, will now announce this year’s winner.

SHAYLA: The one thousand dollar Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship goes to Hannah.

5 Comments:

At 8/6/08 9:43 AM, Blogger Olivia said...

Hannah's essay and your speech were simply beautiful. I can't imagine how difficult it was; your strength is an inspiration.

Love & hugs,
Olivia

 
At 8/6/08 4:16 PM, Anonymous Amber said...

Angela that speach is beautifull ! I think Christi would be proud of you for letting her memory live on like that i can see from the pictures that you had posted previously that she loved dancing , I think you are so strong ,the world needs more people like you ! Shayla looks like she had a grand time dancing on that stage i admire you for always staying positive and for carrying on with this amazing website ! I live in the united kingdom , and christi's life touched me deeply ! I respect all of you so much ! lots of love and thinking of you always
Amber xxx

 
At 8/6/08 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angela....What a truly beautiful speech direct from your heart. Christi's memory is alive in so many people and she constantly reminds me to smile and get on with 'playing the hand of cards I am dealt'. God bless you all from Michelle in Australia.

 
At 8/6/08 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

You guys look gorgeous (I want to know where you shop Angela :) It must have been incredibly hard to give this speech and I wish I could have been there.

I sent you a reply email last night Angela - let me know if you find it or it hasn't shown up(sometimes it gets categorized as spam).

 
At 10/6/08 8:23 PM, Blogger 4floridadillons said...

shayla looks so tall and so beautiful...
you must be so proud of her and all that she is acomplishing!!!
my heart breaks for her loss and for yours...i know that christi is smiling down from heaven...just wish she could be here with you...

 

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