Kelly Blumenthal – Will you #DanceWithFinn?
The #DanceWithFinn Challenge just recently launched and it's already taken off! Literally! We’ve seen videos posted by a flight crew at United Airlines, nurses, doctors, families, sports teams, companies, kid's and even pets!
You see, my son, Finn has a congenital heart defect. He has endured ten surgeries including one open heart surgery, an eight-month hospital stay and has more heart surgeries coming up this summer; and he is only two years old. We have been volunteering for the American Heart Association through their Jump Rope For Heart Program for two seasons now. Little Finn and I visit area school assemblies to get them excited about raising life-saving funds. Finn just LOVES spending time with the kids but his favorite part is when they dance!
The idea for this challenge began a few months ago when we were sadly reminded that the school year was ending, yet again, and wishing there was some way we could keep the dancing going. It just sort of hit us all at once as we realized, well, why not? Why not use the power of social media and the gift of technology to spread awareness, raise money for this organization that we love so much AND keep the beat going? And, just like that, the #DanceWithFinn Challenge was born! We launched a video explaining the challenge and set up a donation page at www.heart.org/dancewithfinn. You can visit the site to see our family’s dance video!
Finn loves watching each video and always asks for us to play them again and again. His personal favorites are of kids just jumping around. My favorite so far has been from two doctors out of Dallas, Texas who did a little Bruno Mars, “carpool karaoke” during their lunch break! It's inspiring, it's happy, it's contagious and it's making a difference each and every day as more and more people post their videos.
While these fun videos are making Finn happy, they carry a deeper meaning for me. When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Finn, we were told his heart would fail and he would pass away before he was born. Making it to full term was the first miracle, and I wanted him to come into the world in a happy and joyful environment whether he lived one minute or a billion minutes. He was a scheduled c-section, so I asked that the doctors play the Pharrell song 'Happy' as he entered the world, and they did. Two hours away, back home at our local hospital, they also played this song when he was scheduled to be born and prayed he would be ok and he was.
Very few people know this fact about him but music was a vital part of him coming into the world. I think that’s why Finn has a huge passion for dancing. We continued to play music for him and danced around his crib the entire time he was hospitalized. Through every surgery, every struggle, every tear, we danced; he smiled and he kept fighting. From the very first school assembly, I saw a fire and a passion explode in this freshly turned one year old. Ever since then, he won't stop and I don't think he ever will.
Finn will undergo a very risky round of heart surgeries next month. This journey is so difficult and at times, it is very dark. But, it's simply impossible to not see the immense brightness through these dances from friends, families, businesses and fellow heart warriors. We can't wait to see what each day brings and what people will dance to next!
We are incredibly grateful to the American Heart Association for standing behind our family, this challenge and for providing life-saving research so that our spunky dancer can dance as long as his heart allows. We are filled with a truly happy heart at the outpouring of support, creativity, and joy that comes from each #DanceWithFinn video that is uploaded. So far, we’ve raised more than $4,000 – mostly in $10 increments.