April 20, 2017
I am one of 12 siblings, seven of which are adopted and have special needs. My siblings’ special needs range from spina bifida and cerebral palsy to autism and blindness. Our very diverse family has been visiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, for as long as I can remember. I was the first Miller treated at Children’s when I had tubes put in my ears at two weeks old. My background with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals began at a very young age.
Children’s has become an extended family to us. We go there for surgeries, rehab and everything in between. My family members have had over 50 surgeries, and we spend, on average, between 80 to 100 days a year at the hospital.
I got involved with Dance Marathon, known on campus as KSU Miracle, as a suggestion from a KD sister the summer after my freshman year. She said “Ryann, you are meant to be a part of this organization.” I applied to be on the board and, with my extensive background with Children’s, was given a position. Little did I know the impact this organization would have on my life.
After a year of fundraising and hard work for Dance Marathon, I knew I wanted to be able to lead the organization to even greater heights. While serving as vice president-member education for Kappa Delta, I was offered the position of executive director for KSU Miracle. I knew it would be a challenge to balance it all, especially with my plan to run for chapter president in the fall, but I think it’s important to pursue your passions and this was very much one of mine.
Following my term as VP-member education, I was elected president of Kappa Delta. With the support of my chapter, I was able to balance the responsibilities of both organizations. Kappa Delta was such an important support system through this entire journey. I made it my mission to invest in the people within KSU Miracle and apply the love and leadership values I gained from Kappa Delta to the organization.
Shortly after being selected as the new executive director of KSU Miracle, I received news that my brother, Patrick, who suffers from spina bifida, was being rushed to the ICU. Patrick spent a total of 43 days in the ICU between our local hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta before returning home. This dire situation strengthened my desire to invest in KSU Miracle and push our campus to support the hospital that saved my family.
I set KSU Miracle’s fundraising goal at a lofty $150,000 – triple the previous year’s goal. We started our fundraising right away and pushed hard all year.
At our 12-hour Dance Marathon, we played with the kids from the hospital, heard their stories and most importantly, spent the day celebrating life. My KD sisters really showed out in a way they never have before. We had sisters on the board and others serving as morale captains and dancers. We even had a sister share her story about how Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta saved her life.
One of the many highlights of Dance Marathon was the honor I received when I was awarded The Miller Miracle Award, a new annual award (named after me!) that recognizes someone who has made an impact on the organization.
Another big surprise of the day was when I was given the privilege of naming part of the new hospital extension after KSU Miracle. In spring of 2018, we will cut the ribbon to the new KSU Miracle PT/OT/Speech Rehabilitation Facility in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Town Center. I look forward to working at the hospital one day, and each time I pass the facility I will be able to know I played a small role in it being there.
Eta Omega-Kennesaw State