(NEW YORK) — “We can’t always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.”
These words from an unknown source inspire Dancing While Cancering, an organization whose mission is to help children battling cancer and their families by bringing music and joy to them at the hospital.
Dancing can put a smile on almost anyone’s face, even in the hardest of times, and perhaps no one knew this better than Maddie Kramer.
Maddie, of Chicago, was diagnosed at the age of 2 with a rare form of cancer called atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (ATRT). Even through intense treatment, she would smile and find a way to have fun in the hospital — and often times, it was through dancing.
“Maddie, in true toddler form, battled her cancer the only way she knew how, which was through the powers of imagination, dancing and singing,” her father, Scott Kramer, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Sadly, Maddie lost her battle with cancer in January 2018.
Her parents, Scott and Pammy Kramer, founded Dancing While Cancering in October 2018 in memory of their daughter.
Their goal is to bring joy to the in-patient hospital experience for kids with cancer.
As parents of a child who had cancer, they know how troubling a diagnosis can be for both the family and the child.
“The time right after a child is diagnosed with cancer is extremely dark and overwhelming, and we just want to bring some smiles to that moment,” Pammy Kramer told GMA.
Dancing While Cancering brings joy to hospitals by providing kids who have been recently diagnosed with cancer with a Smile Pack, a bright green backpack filled with goodies such as decorations and musical instruments to brighten up their hospital rooms.
Items in the Smile Packs vary depending on the age of the patient, but every Smile Pack includes a wireless speaker so patients can enjoy their favorite music.
“In so many ways, the Smile Pack is an extension of what brought Maddie joy,” Scott Kramer said.
Although Maddie loved all music, Scott Kramer shared that he’d often find Maddie dancing to her favorites, such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake It off” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
“Just because they have cancer doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have fun,” Pammy Kramer said.
Today, Dancing While Cancering brings joy and smiles to 11 hospitals across seven states with the Smile Packs. The organization also launched a #BattleWithJoy campaign on Instagram to inspire other kids and families who may be going through a hard time.
“We often get asked how did we get through it. What got us through was Maddie. Despite taking chemo that was making her feel terrible, she was there dancing and singing and living in the moment. And we should all learn from Maddie and these awesome kids that that’s the way to live life,” Pammy Kramer said. “Just live it up.”
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