Approximately one in every 285 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with cancer by the time they turn 20, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. Because of this statistic, colleges around the U.S. have created dance marathons to raise money to support these children.
Eaglethon is an organization at UNT that hosts fundraising events throughout the year and a dance marathon in March to serve as a final celebration. The money raised goes to help kids who are sick and treated at Cook Children’s Hospital, including Ingrid Breit, 6-year-old Miracle Child and Denton resident.
When Ingrid was two, she was diagnosed with high risk pre-B cell leukemia. She has been treated by Cook Children’s Hospital since her diagnosis to help her get where she is now. In late November of 2018, she completed her treatment and has remained cancer-free, but she still goes in every eight weeks to make sure there are no signs of the cancer returning.
“Cook Children’s is an amazing hospital that provided the best care for Ingrid and our entire family,” said Abby Breit, Ingrid’s mom and Denton resident. “After being diagnosed, Ingrid spent almost a month in the hospital. She was poked and prodded, constantly tethered to her IV pole, and given medicine that made her feel awful.”
Although Cook Children’s Hospital is designed to care for illnesses, they also have services that cater to the needs of children, allowing them to be kids.
“Being able to do art-and-craft type activities allowed her to be like a normal kid and give her a happy distraction in the midst of the yuckiness,” Abby said. “Eaglethon’s support helps make all of this possible.”
As a Miracle Child of Eaglethon, Ingrid has had the opportunity to form relationships with the UNT students who are part of Eaglethon.
“Ingrid has been so blessed to be a part of Eaglethon the last couple of years,” Abby said. “Everyone is so kind to her and [includes] her in events throughout the year and make her feel so special. It has been fun to see her grow up with Eaglethon.”
Through her involvement with Eaglethon, UNT students have gotten to know Ingrid and learn about her personality. Ingrid is present at various campus events, the Eaglethon dance marathon and has celebrated her past two birthday parties at UNT.
“Ingrid is so funny,” said Shannon McGahey, history senior and Eaglethon director of sponsorship and morale dance captain. “She has two different sides to her personality, just like a lot of kids do. She can either be really shy, or she can be totally crazy and energetic. I’ve had the privilege of seeing both sides.”
By being involved with Eaglethon, Ingrid has the opportunity to give back to the hospital and help other children who are similar to her.
“Eaglethon allows Ingrid to be a part of her community and gives her something to look forward to and [a] way to give back to her hospital,” Abby said. “Ingrid greatly looks forward to Eaglethon events throughout the year.”
Ingrid is passionate about helping the children at Cook Children’s Hospital so they can have the same opportunities that she has had.
“She’s just the sweetest kid ever, and she’s always excited to help out,” McGahey said. “Even if she’s feeling shy, she does want to be there and she does want to help, because she knows that it’s for her and it’s for all the other kids.”
McGahey said even at such a young age, Ingrid is selfless and has a passion for helping others.
“She’s so aware of other people,” McGahey said. “She’s like, ‘I want people who have problems like me to be able to do these things, and I want to help other people.’ I think that’s just so special. She has such a golden heart and she’s so adorable and so full of energy.”
Ingrid and her family are actively involved in the various Eaglethon events throughout the year. Having Ingrid at tabling events helps put it into perspective for those that may be passing by.
“At the tabling event, she was running around to people and getting their attention,” McGahey said. “She was standing on the table and dancing and everything. She went out and did the dance for everyone at the basketball game.”
By being part of Eaglethon, Ingrid and her family have been able to see the impact that the organization has been able to have on the community and the kids of it.
“It is so important to raise awareness and support for children fighting serious illnesses in the hospital,” Abby said. “The extra therapy programs like art and music help provide some semblance of normalcy, comfort and joy to children that are facing scary and often painful treatments. It also helps families to know their communities support them and that they are not alone.”
Every year, Ingrid has had the opportunity to attend Eaglethon and have a special role in the event to be recognized alongside the other Miracle Children.
“[My favorite part of Eaglethon is] running through the tunnel of people,” Ingrid said.
This year’s Eaglethon will be taking place on March 21 and is open to the student body who would like to support Ingrid and the other Miracle Children. Participants can sign up at tinyurl.com/eaglethon20.
“Family, friends and Eaglethon [are most important to me],” Ingrid said.
Courtesy Breit family