Miller’s time

By on April 18, 2018

 

Dakota Miller will be one of the speakers set for Warwick High  School’s Four Diamonds Mini-THON assembly Friday.

Dakota Miller will be one of the speakers set for Warwick HighSchool’s Four Diamonds Mini-THON assembly Friday.

Dakota Miller, diagnosed with leukemia before he was five, is ready to ‘blow the doors off for donations’ at Warwick’s Mini-THON

At 15, Dakota Miller has been waiting for almost half his lifetime to participate in Warwick High School’s Four Diamonds Mini-THON on April 27.

Now that he is a high school freshman, he can join Warwick’s UNITE Club and raise money for the Four Diamonds fund to help children and their families at Penn State Children’s Hospital affected by childhood cancer.

Dakota has a good reason to want to raise money for Four Diamonds. He was once a Four Diamonds child, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when he was just 4 1/2 years old.

“After three and three-quarter years, he finished his chemotherapy and treatments, and was finally able to live a normal life. That was almost seven years ago,” says his mother Carol Miller.

Thanks to the Four Diamonds fund, his parents, Dave and Carol Miller, never saw a single medical bill for their son. Their insurance and Four Diamonds covered everything.

Dakota in the hospital at 4 1/2 when he had lost his hair due to cancer treatments.

Four Diamonds provided meal vouchers for the family as they sat by his bedside at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey. Four Diamonds paid a heating bill and two car payments as well, as the family faced having to manage on just Dave’s income, so that Carol could be with her son at the hospital. They also got assistance from the Jeff Musser Foundation to help families with expenses when a child has cancer.

“Four Diamonds meant so much to us. Dakota wanted to give back and help raise money through the Mini-THON,” says Carol Miller.

Dakota still remembers his days in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy treatments, being constantly hooked up to IVs and having blood tests. Looking back, he says he “just went with it,” even though he vaguely knew that being a child should have been much more fun and carefree.

“Through it all, Dakota continues to have the same big, bright smile. He’s a great kid,” says Carol Miller.

Dakota was just over 4 years old when his mother noticed that her once-energetic son seemed very tired and his skin had a pallor that was unlike his usual bright complexion. It turned out that he had an acute form of leukemia that affected his blood cells. His cancer developed quickly, within just a month or two. He immediately began treatment at Penn State Children’s Hospital and the Millers’ lives were turned upside down until he was well again.

“They say that when a child has cancer, the whole family has cancer,” said Carol Miller, noting that Dakota is the youngest of five children, with his older siblings in their 30s.

Now that he is in high school, Dakota wants to be the top fundraiser for the Four Diamonds Mini-THON at Warwick. He has already raised more than $1,520, getting donations from friends and family. He has far surpassed his original goal of $150.

“I want to blow the doors off for donations,” he says. “I want to give back for all they did for me.”

Dakota will be one of the speakers set for Warwick High School’s Four Diamonds Mini-THON assembly on Friday. The others will include Lebanon Valley College football coach Vince Pantalone, whose son died of cancer, and Sophie Ruiz, a Hempfield High School student battling cancer.

The assembly is a preview of the Warwick Mini-THON, which is set for April 27 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. For 12 hours, participants will stay awake, dance, play games, participate in quiz bowls, do arts activities, have food and walk around at the high school cafeteria and gym.

Organized by Warwick teachers Carolyn Hoy, Lauren Sangrey, Julie Mowrer and Tish Jones, the Mini-THON lets teens experience the fatigue and exhaustion that cancer patients must deal with for months and years.

“It’s a small sacrifice for most of the teens. It helps them appreciate what children with cancer have to face,” says Hoy.

Not only do the Warwick High School students participate in the all-night Mini-THON, but there is a mini version of the Mini-THON for the community, that only requires staying awake for 3 1/2 hours, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Everyone in the community is invited to join the Mini-THON fun and raise money for the Four Diamonds fund.

“We hope people will come out and join the community event,” says Hoy.

Last year, Warwick High School raised more than $45,000 for Four Diamonds. The event is sponsored by the WHS UNITE Club and supported by other clubs, including Interact, Avedium, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, and Quiz Bowl.

“Participants of the Warwick High School Mini-THON are joining more than 90,000 students in a powerful movement to conquer childhood cancer,” says Hoy, adding that

Warwick’s Mini-THON began as a student project in 2010 and has grown over the past eight years to involve more than 300 students in 2017.

Four Diamonds supports more than 80 pediatric oncology research professionals at Penn State College of Medicine who conduct the full spectrum of cancer research. The Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center benefits children at Penn State Children’s Hospital, as well as children and families around the world.

To find out more about the Warwick High School Mini-THON, check out warwickminithon.com. Click on START DONATING to find Dakota Miller’s link for donations, listed under top fundraisers.

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