Gracyn DenBesten has been enjoying all of the new experiences that come with being a freshman at UF, and she is looking forward to being a Dancer the most. The Miracle Children that Dance Marathon supports hold a special place in her heart because she remembers being one herself. Her experiences at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital motivate her to help kids who are fighting now and in the future.
“When I was eight years old, I developed Viral Myocarditis, a cold that attacked my heart and caused me to need a heart transplant. I was airlifted to Shands where I had a ten-hour surgery that put me on the Berlin Heart for over four months. When I think about moments that redefined and changed my life the most, I think about living in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. It gave me a new perspective for the blessing of life itself. I remember being in my room, and a patient would come to stay in the room next to me. Sometimes their room was cleared and they were gone that very next day because they had passed. It was a constant reminder for me to never take things for granted. My time in the hospital was so much waiting – for a new heart, to get better, to go home. Living through this was a reminder to take each day one step at a time. Even if it was a terrible quality of life where I was constantly being attached to a machine, taking pills, getting shots, and throwing up — I learned to never take it for granted.”
The experiences Gracyn endured are her driving force for making a difference in the lives of others. Her strongest passion in life is fighting for people and sharing her story with them.
“I want to instill hope in others through my life story. I want to tell them that they can go through hard times and come out stronger than before. My dream is to work with hospitals and children. I want to speak on behalf of organizations and hospitals to strengthen their abilities so they may touch more people and change more lives.”
Gracyn wants to do as much as she can to fully appreciate her second chance at life. She gives all of the new heart she was given to others.
“It is a very special opportunity for me to be a Dancer because I will have been on both sides. I know what Miracle Children go through. I went through it myself. It is a beautiful representation of the power we have as Dancers – what we are able to give. Dancing for me is thanking Dance Marathon for all that they did for me and supporting the children who are currently going through the unimaginably hard times that I experienced.”