"Stay Strong, Kids. You Are Not Alone."

March 2, 2016
Topics: Donors

crystal blog image
The Indianapolis Colts mascot, Blue, shaving Crystal's head during a game

If I could have a wish granted for Riley Hospital for Children, I would wish for every child to have no pain, no sorrow, but instead, joy, happiness, and lots of love.

I have chosen to participate in the Riley fundraising event Reason to Dance, Reason for Hope on March 11 because it offers a platform for me to promote cancer awareness and help support children who are bravely battling various ailments at Riley Hospital for Children.

I feel an overwhelming duty to help sick children every chance I can.

At the age of 3, I was diagnosed with leukemia. It is tough for a child to understand what he or she is fighting against, especially something as devastating as cancer. I did not fully understand what cancer was or how it affected me, but I still remember the nurses, my doctor, friends, and relatives who visited me. I remember going in for treatments and waking up knowing that I was going to get a toy!

I’ve been in remission since age 5. Today, I am proud to share my story with everyone. I have a different outlook on life than most. As an Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader, I have participated in many charity events, and one that stood out the most took place in November of 2014. The Colts mascot, Blue, shaved my head during an NFL game in honor of the head coach Chuck Pagano, who was battling leukemia. Having my head shaved was part of the reward to the community for reaching the fundraising goal in support of cancer research. It was also a way for me to show others that they aren’t alone when they go through the side-effects of treatment, including hair loss. I donated my hair to Locks of Love (the second time I had done so.) After that experience, I have wanted nothing more than to continue supporting the community and help where I can.

Supporting Riley Hospital through Reason to Dance, Reason for Hope makes me feel extremely grateful and blessed. I am really thankful that I am given the opportunity to contribute to another great cause! Based off of the famous TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I was intrigued that this event gave me a chance to raise money for Riley Hospital and also learn how to ballroom dance and showcase it on March 11th— win-win!

I encourage those who have the desire to help sick children to reach out to Riley Children’s Foundation. There are all kinds of ways that you can help, from raising awareness on social media, to participating in events, to sharing your story, to raising or donating funds. 

For children who are at Riley right now, here is the message I would like to share: Stay strong, kids. You are not alone. You have plenty of support and love around you. You all are the bravest children in the world and God only gives his strongest soldiers these types of battles.

Click here to learn more about Reason to Dance, Reason for Hope, or to make a donation to Riley through this special event!

Crystal Anne Belen

Crystal Anne Belen is a young professional from Fairborn, Ohio, who moved to Indianapolis to start her longtime dream of becoming an Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader. Crystal is a childhood cancer survivor, and her passion is to motivate and encourage others by living a healthy lifestyle and raising awareness for all types of cancer. She has been a Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport for three years.

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