When I read the story about a local Chicago tiny dancer named Donna, it struck home. As a dance teacher for toddlers and an Aunt for a 4 year old, I couldn’t imagine losing a student nor my niece let alone my own child. A month ago, Donna’s dance teacher, Miss Shawn, reached out to CDS to supply tutus for her and Team Dancing Donna to run in at the 10th Annual Run for Gus 5k. The team will be running in tutus in memory of little Donna.

In March 2007, Donna was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, papillary meningioma, at only 20 months old. She was in treatment for 31 months, however, she did not let chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery slow her down. As her mom hoped for, ‘she lived till she died’. This courageous little girl debut her talents at her ballet recital, loved wearing the color black, danced on the Auditorium stage, and enjoyed pre-school. The art of dance was one of the ways Donna and her parents chose hope. As her mother stated in her blog,

“Parents, run with your toddlers, boys and girls, to the nearest dance studio. It is a wonderful opportunity to have them socialize, learn respect, coordination, and appreciation for their bodies. Getting Donna into dance was one of the ways we chose hope, the mantra that had guided our Cancer Parenting since diagnosis. Choosing hope meant believing that Donna would enjoy her classes, make it to the recital, shine on a stage like the star she was, and live.”

On October 19, 2009, at age four, Donna passed away peacefully with her loving parents at her side. Her story continues to impact many, including me, even three years after her passing. I wish I could have met her as she seems to have been a brilliant and exceptional child full of love and sunshine. My heart goes out to all parents and children who must endure through the agony of cancer. You are fighters. From the words of Donna’s mother,

“If you see a bald child, smile. Look their parent in the eye. Let them know you understand. Be aware that you are looking at greatness. Know that kid is amazing and brave and so very, heartbreakingly vulnerable. Just like Donna.”

The 10th Annual Run for Gus will raise funds to advance research, treatments and support services for kids with brain tumors at Children’s Memorial Hospital. Team Dancing Donna are hoping to raise $5,000+ by July 26, 2012, the day of the run. In an effort to help raise money, Chicago Dance Supply will donate $2 for every tutu purchased from May 1, 2012 to July 1, 2012. Donna’s memory will live on and someday there will be a cure and the fight against cancer will end. There is only hope, but hope is what keeps us going.