Each year, FTK hosts an annual Fashion Show event to showcase the kids and allow them and their families to experience a night of fun and smiles, away from the hospital. Fashion Show is one of FTK’s major events (and my favorite!) and serves as one of the ways it unites the UTSA community around a common cause. At Fashion Show, each child is escorted down the runway by a university student leader. Because I was the President of the Terry Scholar Student Organization at the time, I had the pleasure of being invited to escort Audrey at the 2014 Fashion Show!
Prior to the event, Audrey’s mom advised me that Audrey was terrified, and had made a last minute decision not to participate. However, she had been excited to walk for a very long time, so her mom asked me to offer encouragement. “This is all she’s talked about for weeks,” her mom said. So, Audrey and I played games in the family room while she and her sister told me about their school and their family. Meanwhile, I grew increasingly concerned that she would be unable to go through with it. We started to line up, and I could tell that Audrey was scared (honestly so was I), so we started playing with a beach ball in line to distract ourselves. As we approached the back doors to the auditorium, I wondered what would happen if she couldn’t go inside. However, we should have known how incredibly brave she was – as we moved from behind the curtain, Audrey grabbed my hand tightly, whispered “don’t let go,” and we walked down the runway to thunderous applause!
Audrey and her sister were beyond proud of themselves for participating in the Fashion Show, and their smiles and laughter are the reasons why I strongly encourage all UTSA students to participate in FTK and its events. To witness such a small child summon that kind of bravery was stunning. During my time as an FTK member, I learned an important lesson about pediatric cancer patients and survivors. They are regular kids, with regular families, who have hopes, dreams and want to be happy like the rest of us. They also happen to be fighting overwhelmingly difficult circumstances, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they just want to be a regular kid. So to be able to provide these kids and families with opportunities to feel normal, and to have fun, is incredibly rewarding.