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Best of 2017: I Will Survive...dancing for Children's Tumor Foundation

9.7.2017 | By: Wendy Cook

As I have aged one difference I have noticed in my life is references to songs, movies, and TV shows are lost in the generation gap. Big Rock Yoga Teacher Trainings have students of all ages, however I am certainly blessed with more students in their 20s and 30s than any other age population. They keep me young at heart. And, at the same time I feel the generation gap when my playlists from the 70s, references to Happy Days, Tootsie, or Jim Belushi are completely lost in translation!

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting 9-year-old Miles and his family. Miles is my Arkansas Children’s Tumor Foundation HERO. Miles is my HERO in more than one way! Miles lives with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis (NF). He and I will both be Dancing with the Stars Thursday, September 7th to raise funds and bring awareness to End NF.

NF causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. At this time, there is no approved cure for NF, but a number of promising clinical trials are underway. NF can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning disabilities, and disabling pain. NF affects one in every 3,000 persons and affects millions worldwide. NF is more prevalent than cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease combined.

Miles came to visit me during my dance practice with John Browning of High Voltage Dance. (John is the professional…I am the “star”, which will be obvious Thursday night!) Lesley Oslica, Arkansas’ NF EVERYTHING, asked Miles what my song meant to him. John and I have a very high energy, fun modern jazz dance to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. Here is the generation gap! Miles does not know this song. Yet, he did not hesitate to answer Lesley’s question “What does Wendy’s song ‘I Will Survive’ mean for you?

Miles simply answered that every time he goes to the doctor for treatment he “KNOWS (I)he will survive”.

So…Miles just skipped the generation gap. He hit the depth of the title of the song! He does not know that the song is in reference to a man that disrespected a woman and her regained strength. Miles does know, at the young age of 9 ,  what the words “I’ve got all my life to live and I’ve got all my Love to give. I’ll survive. I will survive.” mean.

“I Will Survive” has been a personal inspiration for me the last several years of my life. Life has had its losses and struggles. Real loss. Real struggles. I, too, in my own way have had a steadfast focus on “I Will Survive”.

Yet, Miles in that one moment put so much in perspective. I am healthy. My three grown children are healthy. My grandson is healthy. He inspired me with his BELIEF, his KNOWING that he will survive.

Your financial support can bring Miles’ belief into reality for Miles and all those affected by NF. Your support is needed to continue the research for a cure for NF. Your support helps raise the quality of life for the families impacted with the daily care of NF patients. Your support allows children with NF to attend camps together that support them physically and emotionally to live life to the fullest.

While tonight's 10th Anniversary Event is SOLD OUT you can make a donation in any range of $1-$10,000 in my name…and your support will add to the votes for John and I to win the CTF Mirror Ball tonight as we Dance to End NF! (Life can be fun while serious...it's not all about the mirror ball, but it is!)

We have all our life to live and we all have our love to GIVE! Please GIVE generously….Hey. Hey. (the generation gap may have just shown up if you were not singing this!)

Much LOVE. wendy


* One way I survive is through service to others through Big Rock Outreach, a non-profit I founded to provide yoga to underserved Arkanasas populations. These include yoga training scholarships and classes at locations including Our House and Woman and Children First. The above piece of artwork is that of Miles' mother Morgan Coven Herndon. She also survives through service to others and donated this piece to Big Rock Outreach's annual fundraising event. Neither of us knew the other had volunteered to support the other's passionate work through our chosen charities! On a single day I was informed of her artwork and received an email with Miles' personal information. It gave me chills when I realized the connection. I believe that when we give from our heart generously we are all tied together as the artwork so beautifully portraits. Morgan's generosity was purchased by a Big Rock Yoga student and donated back to the studio where it is displayed in our lobby.

**Last, but certainly not least...a huge thank you to Natalie and Win Rockefeller for supporting my yoga passions and your sponsorship as a "star" during the 10th Anniversary Celebration of CTF Dancing with the Stars. Your encouragment is priceless and I hope to join you in the ranks of WINNERS.


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