For University senior Natalie Swiecicki, both a former miracle child and an advocate for Children’s Miracle Network, Dance Marathon started at age 11 and she saw it as an amazing experience.
“I remember walking to the Rec,” Swiecicki said. “The morale captains were on stage … and I was looking up at them in awe. They were like super heroes to me and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a morale captain.”
Swiecicki receives treatment once a month at St. Vincent’s for her immune deficiency disorder where she heard about the Children’s Miracle Network.
Common Variable Immunodeficiency causes a person’s immune system to not function at the same caliber as someone without the deficiency.
“My body doesn’t produce antibodies like other people’s immune systems,” Swiecicki said.
Swiecicki has been getting treatments since she was six, but they did not get involved with Dance Marathon until later on.
“She’s had treatments since she was six years old, so we’ve been going through this for 16 years,” Natalie’s mother Serena Swiecicki said. “We didn’t really get involved at first because with her diagnosis people of all ages outgrow the diagnosis but she has not.”
Swiecicki’s involvement and seriousness is an inspiration to her family.
“Her involvement has just really inspired me,” Swiecicki’s older sister Nicole Swiecicki said. “The way she takes it so seriously raising money and her being involved when she was in school is pretty amazing.”
Nicole finds herself sharing her sister’s story to inform others about these organizations.
“I always share with everybody our experience with Dance Marathon and Children’s Miracle Network … to try to make them aware of this organization and how they raise money and what they raise it for,” Nicole said.
Swiecicki also spends part of her time doing advocacy work outside of Dance Marathon.
“I’ve helped feed the homeless in Toledo. We make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lunches for them,” Swiecicki said. “I [also] shaved my head two years ago for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”
She has found Dance Marathon to be a positive influence on her life and it has given her special people in her life.
“I’ve made so many friends through this organization and so many relationships that I can’t even say enough about it,” Swiecicki said.
Nicole feels that this process from miracle child to participant has changed her sister.
“This whole process of her being a miracle child and then growing into a part of DM and a part of raising money for the program has been amazing for her,” Nicole said. “The awareness she has now of how important the people that raise the money are to the hospitals and the children themselves, since she was there once.”