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Ask Jonathan

Shea Garcia, 10, who was a patient in Miami Children's Hospital, was a guest at last year's kickoff Dance Marathon event at UM. Shea and his family shared their story with participants and will be guests again at the event this Sunday at 11am at Hecht Athletic Center. Courtesy of Anjoly Ibrahim

Shea Garcia, 10, who was a patient in Miami Children's Hospital, was a guest at last year's kickoff Dance Marathon event at UM. Shea and his family shared their story with participants and will be guests again at the event this Sunday at 11am at Hecht Athletic Center. Courtesy of Anjoly Ibrahim

Everywhere University of Miami students look, whether it be by the University Center or the Richter Library, they are bombarded with “Ask Jonathan” signs. Many people wonder what this catchphrase means.

“I first thought that it must be for a tutor or something, but then I thought that maybe it’s someone’s initial, early push to become student president,” junior Eric Smith said.

“Is it something to do with the military and their old ‘don’t ask don’t tell philosophy?'” junior Alex Schendel said jokingly.

Both of these students gave answers from opposite ends of the spectrum, but neither is close to deciphering what this strange phrase truly means.

Junior Sabrina Bunch, the public relations co-chair for Dance Marathon, was able to shed some light on these mysterious signs.

“Jonathan was a child who was treated at Miami Children’s Hospital because at two and a half weeks old he started having seizures as a result of a brain tumor,” Bunch said. “They thought it was malignant. It wasn’t, luckily, and they operated. He’s healthy now and plays sports, does normal kid stuff.”

The famed Jonathan from the “Ask Jonathan” campaign is Jonathan Viana of Miami Lakes. Now 11 years old, Viana enjoys attending sporting events and playing baseball with friends and, as Bunch alluded to, is a motivation for many, especially the creators and participants of Dance Marathon.

“Jonathan and his family come every year to Dance Marathon to share their story with the volunteers,” Bunch said.

Now in its second year, Dance Marathon’s goal is to raise money for Miami Children’s Hospital, which falls under the Children’s Miracle Network. Under the network, no child can be turned away due to financial struggles.

Volunteers at Dance Marathon donate at least $10 to the cause and will be able to participate in an eight-hour marathon full of activities including video games and foosball.

“Our slogan is ‘We stand for those that can’t,’ so you can’t sit down,” Bunch said.

The “Ask Jonathan” campaign’s purpose is to spark curiosity in students’ minds and get them asking questions.

“Hopefully people will see our executive board wearing ‘I’m Jonathan’ shirts, ask questions, hear his story and volunteer for Dance Marathon,” Bunch said.

November 11, 2009

Reporters

John Marshburn


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