Shayla with 2011 Christi Thomas, Dance Unlimited, $1,000 Scholarship Winner - the awesome Briana!
$200 Book Scholarships go to: Anne, Jocelyn, Marissa and Blanca. (Check out the orb!)2011 Christi Thomas Dance Unlimited Scholarship Winners
Some of you may remember our little dancer, Christi Thomas, who died at the tender age of 9 after a four year battle with cancer. She was diagnosed shortly after her very first ballet recital here, as a five year old back in 2002 And she died shortly after dancing on this gorgeous stage, with her beautiful little bald head, in 2006. One of the songs she danced to that last year was from the Lion King. A section of the lyrics went, "I've never seen a king of beasts with quite so little hair." Christi, one who could find humor in almost any situation thought that was pretty funny! It’s hard to believe she would have turned 14 last month and would have just completed her freshman year of high school.
We will never know who all helped us during our most difficult days and nights, but I’m certain some of you are sitting right here before me in this theater. We are humbled. We too want to "give back" and help others. One of the ways we decided to give back is by donating a series of scholarships each spring. One of these is this $1,000 scholarship awarded here each year to celebrate Christi and her love of Dance Unlimited. She loved her Dance Unlimited freinds, teachers and directors so much. It’s bittersweet to be here each year, especially as we watch Christi’s former classmates dance. As we sit out in the theatre, clutching hands with tears streaming down our faces, we wonder how tall she’d be, what she’d look like and if she’d still be getting her classmates in trouble for that uncontrollable little giggle of hers that often just “burst out” much to the delight of her friends and I'm sure to the dismay of her teachers.
We felt that some of this year’s applicants were exceptionally worthy, and we really wanted to write EACH of them a $1,000 check; however, that checkbook of ours said “You can’t do that!”. Therefore, we did add some $200 “Book Scholarships” we’ll call them – to note Christi’s love of reading. These $200 checks will be mailed to the recipient’s homes on August 1st . Congratulations to: Jocelyn, Anne, Blanca and Marissa.
This year’s $1,000 scholarship recipient is our 5th annual winner. Perhaps it’s ironic, but as a girl about 9 years old she actually held a fundraiser, asking her peers to donate, to help with Christi’s unpaid medical expenses and our travel costs. I think she raised about $28 all together and about half of that money was her own. And her volunteerism and desire to help others has continued. Each year, together with Heidelberg University and Dr. Lori Grine and her students we continue what Christi started by holding a lemonade stand to raise money for pediatric cancer research. This year’s scholarship recipient attended for years, buying lemonade from Christi, but the past two years she’s been on the other side working the stand.
In her essay she wrote, “About nine years ago, a little girl had an infinite effect on my future. I didn’t know Christi when she was first diagnosed, yet she touched my heart in a way no one else had or has since. Little did I know that our paths in life would cross so frequently because of our love of the arts: dance, theater camp, school. There are people and circumstances in your life that shape who you are. Christi was one of these people in my life. I knew I wanted to be a doctor and help people who were ill because watching her battle made me wish I could’ve done something to change the course of her disease. I became completely set on becoming a doctor so that eventually I can help someone who can’t help themselves. Congratulations, Briana.