A year ago today (February 26th, 2011), there were 50 people dancing at Calumet High School at a fundraiser for a special girl, Amelia.
Who is this special girl? (I wrote this last year before the fundraiser.)
I met Amelia’s mom, Adrian, in my education classes at Northern. We became fast friends and became an NMU “family” with our other sister, Jenni, and our brother, Ryan. While we do not have the opportunity to see each other often, we have always kept in touch and remained “family.”
To mention that Adrian is caring and very intelligent would be an understatement. I was so excited when I found out that she and her husband, Ben, were expecting; I knew that Adrian and Ben would be amazing parents. When Adrian found out that Amelia would have some challenges due to a congenital heart defect, I followed her journey every step of the way through her blog and Facebook. I shed tears as I admired her strength but felt her pain. They did not give up on their baby girl. In fact, she and Ben found out everything they could in order to give the best life possible for Amelia.
Adrian and Ben are the sweetest couple and the most amazing parents. I know that this last year has been both challenging ~ for lack of a better word ~ and amazing ~ to be blessed with their sweet girl, Amelia.
So please come and dance with me for Amelia…and her amazing family. And please spread the word! I need my U.P. family of Zumba friends to show an amazing amount of love for my NMU sister’s daughter, Amelia.
Adrian wrote this letter last year about CHD and Amelia. Please read below:
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one birth defect with approximately 1 out of every 100 births worldwide. More babies die from CHD every year than any other birth defect. There are no known causal genetic or environmental factors behind CHD.
CHD can mean many different problems associated with the structure of the heart but a common problem is associated with the size of the ventricles in the heart. Ventricles are the structures that are responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to the body (left ventricle) or deoxygenated blood to the lungs (right ventricle). When these ventricles are smaller than normal, they are called “hypoplastic”. This means that the heart cannot function properly and requires a series of surgical interventions that have only been performed routinely in the last 20 years. While they do not cure the problem, they can make the heart functional.
We found out that our baby, Amelia, would be born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome at our 20-week ultrasound (where we found out that she was a girl!). This news was devastating to say the least, but through our own research and talking to doctors, we discovered that we were not a unique case and this defect is quite common. Amelia will have to have at least 3 open-heart surgeries prior to the age of 3. She had her first operation at five days old and is recovering very well. She is happy and developing normally in all other categories. Amelia’s second surgery is scheduled for March 7th. We are confident in the capabilities of her surgeon, Dr. Bove, and the team of doctors and nursing staff at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan.
Amelia should live a relatively normal life. We will always have to monitor her activity level and be cautious of her getting any type of virus or even the common cold, because it can be much more detrimental (hospitalization or even death) for her than a normal child. The prospect of her and other babies with CHD living normal lives has been greatly increased by scientific and medical research.
Not surprisingly, these surgeries are extremely expensive! We just received the bill for her first hospital visit and surgery and it was >$138,000! Luckily Amelia has access to health insurance and a wonderful program in Michigan that helps pay some of these costs. However, we worry about medical insurance coverage for her once she becomes an adult due to her pre-existing condition.
We greatly appreciate any of your support for this Zumbathon. We are overwhelmed that Royale offered this and we humbly accept any support that you have provided us. All of the donations will be used towards her medical costs, travel expenses, and lodging (Ronald McDonald house of Ann Arbor) during her lengthy hospital stays.
-Ben, Adrian, and Amelia Dantzer
Now, it’s 2012 and Amelia is expected to undergo surgery on April 10th, 2012. She recently had some other procedures as well. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Amelia and her family.
Pictures of Amelia and the Zumbathon below: