Dancing for a Miracle

Every day, listeners throughout central Oklahoma hear Jessi Stone’s voice. An Edmond resident and on-air talent for KMGL radio, Magic 104.1, Stone puts on a show daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., slinging music, news and personality.

But Stone has another passion, one that relies on a different kind of talent. Once a year, she straps on her dancing shoes, signs up for grueling rehearsals and learns to ballroom dance. She does it for children.
Last year, Stone was among the celebrity dancers at the Children’s Hospital Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network’s gala, Dancing for a Miracle. And although last year was the first time Stone competed, she came away with the top prize. This year, Stone is hoping to win again.

Dancing for a Miracle, set for 6 p.m. on August 6, will be held at the OKC Marriott, 3233 Northwest Expressway. The event pits local celebrities in a competition to raise the most money for the foundation while learning to ballroom dance as part of the event’s show.

The foundation works to improve the health of children through its support of research and education at the Oklahoma Health Center. It is the only nonprofit organization in Oklahoma that focuses on pediatric research and education while supporting specialized clinical care for children. “It’s an amazing organization, and I was thrilled to be a part of the event again this year,” Stone says.

In 2010, a KMGL account representative approached Stone about competing in the event. The station’s morning show personality had competed the previous year. “He had a blast with it, so I jumped at the chance,” Stone says. “I had a slight dance background with competition dancing as a kid, so it sparked my interest.”
What Stone wasn’t prepared for was how difficult ballroom dancing was. Even with experience in dance, Stone says rehearsals were challenging. “We started rehearsals with Heart to Dance and took on the challenge of working to raise money,” Stone says. “It was very tough. There were times I felt I couldn’t walk afterwards. Ballroom dance is very different from what I was used to, so rehearsals were grueling, but fun. But in the end, we put on a good event and raised money to help children, so you kept that in mind when the blisters on your feet ached.”

While rehearsing three times a week, Stone also had to raise funds, which she says was even tougher. She explored different avenues to garner support and says she was lucky to have items like a guitar autographed by Foreigner and concert tickets donated by Renda Broadcasting. All items went into the Dancing for a Miracle silent auction, which boosted her fundraising goal. “I ended up raising over $9,000 last year, and that just blew my mind.”

Stone admits that she knew nothing about the organization last year. Learning about the foundation and hearing the heart-wrenching stories from parents and kids really tugged at her soul. “You think that hospitals do OK financially, but I had no idea how much they rely on donated funds,” Stone says. “The more I put myself out there, the more people I found who were affected by the hospital. I met people whose kids had rare blood diseases or cancer. I met someone whose nephew was (taken by helicopter) to the hospital from Ada, and she said he would have died otherwise.”

Knowing what a difference the hospital makes in children’s and families’ lives “grabbed my heart,” Stone says. “We heard from the parents of Brock at last year’s Dancing for a Miracle. He was 2, and his parents got up to talk about their experiences. Little Brock was playing on the stage and was just the cutest kid ever. To hear what he went through (with a rare serious illness) really got to everyone.”

Stone says the people she’s met and the children she has helped are why she was eager to be a part of Dancing for a Miracle again this year. “The parents and the kids are great. The committee for Children’s Miracle Network is amazing, not just for this event but for all the ways they raise money,” Stone says.

Children’s Hospital Foundation, which began in 1983, has raised more than $80 million to support pediatric research and fund specialized clinical care and collaborate on projects with entities like University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. “Jessi Stone truly stepped up to the challenge at Dancing for a Miracle,” said Alisha Kaighen, associate director of Children’s Miracle Network. “Last year alone, Dancing for a Miracle raised more than $46,000 for CMN hospitals so that children can have access to the best pediatric specialists without having to leave the state.”

This year, Jessi is facing stiff competition against other celebrity dancers, including Dave Willis, Diane Stockton, Fox 25’s Jaclyn Schultz, Jeff George, Joe Dorman, Joey Combs, Lacey Payne, T. J. Brown and Taylor Treat-Burget. Emcee for the event is KOCO meteorologist Sarah Libby and CMNH board member Tommy Cunningham. Set to judge the event are KFOR meteorologist David Payne, News 9 anchor Amanda Taylor, KFOR anchor Lance West and Cherokee Ballard, former KOCO weekend anchor. The winner is chosen based on how much is raised, as well as each competitor’s involvement in the dance show.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, visit www.childrenshospitalfoundation.net. To donate to Stone’s goal, visit her fundraising page at www.chfdonate.org/?p=80.

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