The Davis Service Programming Board of the Weber State University Student Association is putting on an event aimed at local children with life-threatening medical conditions and their families. On Thursday, 4:30-6:30 p.m., the Davis campus’ D3 Ballroom will be transformed with games, crafts and music.
HopeKids, the community partner for the event, is a nonprofit organization that works on the premise that hope can be a powerful medicine.
“We serve kids and their families that have been diagnosed and are fighting either cancer or some other life-threatening illness,” said Kim Lewis, the executive director for the HopeKids Utah Chapter.
Lewis said HopeKids provides hope to its participating children with its event-filled calendar.
“When they’re in the middle of a treatment or preparing for a surgery or trying to recover from some procedure, their parents can share our calendar with them,” Lewis said. “They have something to look forward to, and that’s a big part of healing.”
Thursday’s event will be a dance party with music, line dances and an opportunity for children to freestyle.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying the event, seeing the kids have fun, and also Weber State students enjoying themselves while they do service out here at the Davis campus,” said Alexis Marquez, the Davis campus vice president on the student senate.
Marquez said she hopes the event will spread the love of service and inspire children to volunteer outside of school. “It’s going to be about giving these kids a good time away from them being sick and going through that with their families,” she said. “They can come to Weber, have a great time, and students can volunteer to put on some games and music so they can dance and just have fun.”
Erik Ashby, the coordinator of Student Involvement & Leadership for the Davis campus, said he is excited for the event.
“I really hope that students who volunteer to help out at these types of events obtain a greater understanding of the community that we live in,” he said. “It really helps them to grow individually as a person and to understand what others around them are going through.”
Lewis said the goal of this event, just like all HopeKids events, is to provide an opportunity to bring families and the community together.
“It’s always fun to get kids on campus and hang with older youth that aren’t their siblings but could potentially be a role model,” she said.
Lewis described HopeKids as a built-in support organization for the children, parents and siblings. She said families benefit by connecting with other members of their community who endure much of the same worries.
“We forget that the rest of the days for a lot of the kids are sitting in hospital rooms or being at home in isolation because their immune systems are so fragile,” Lewis said. “So when a child does get healthy enough that they’re able to join us at an event, it’s a really big deal.”
Lewis said acceptance is a big theme of HopeKids. “It doesn’t matter if a child is bald or in a wheelchair or has a feeding tube or is carrying around an oxygen tank, because they don’t look any different from anybody else. It’s just nice for a family to be able to go places where they don’t have to deal with questions or stares.”
The HopeKids dance party is expected to host around eight families.
“It’s about making memories,” Lewis said. “While not every child in our program is terminal, because so many of them are extremely medically fragile, it’s about embracing every moment and making it the best that it can be, and that’s what our families do.”