By Galen Newsum
Marketing and Public Relations Intern
Temple Ambler History major Assunta Forgione has a very personal relationship with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
The doctors at CHOP saved her life.
“I was air-lifted there in a diabetic coma at age 13. They told my parents I probably wasn’t going to wake up again,” she said. “But CHOP refused to give up on me and I surprised everyone by waking up the very next day.”
When Temple University created Hootathon, a dance marathon benefiting CHOP, last year, it was a foregone conclusion that Forgione would be putting on her dancing shoes for the cause.
“Hootathon is really close to my heart. I am forever grateful to the people there and what they do,” she said. “I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The first time I was at CHOP was nine years ago and I still go back for treatments today. They’ve been so helpful and supportive the entire time.”
On November 8, Forgione joined hundreds of her peers for the second annual Hootathon for 12 hours of non-stop dancing.
“The atmosphere of Hootathon from beginning to end is powerful — we all know that we will be on our feet for 12 hours, but we also know that we are all fortunate enough to be able to stand and dance for that long,” she said. “Hootathon is all about the hope that lives at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and making a difference in the lives of these children.”
According to Forgione, 300 students participated in Hootathon 2014, raising more than $119, 539!
“We started out the day learning a morale dance that we did as a group every hour on the hour. From there we danced, saw performances from the Diamond Marching Band and the Temple Ballroom Club, but most importantly we heard from children and families from CHOP describe the amazing miracles that they have been given,” she said. “My favorite part of the day was making my own speech describing my CHOP story and hearing from other Temple Owls who have been treated at CHOP. We are called ‘CHOP Saved, Temple Made,’ and it was amazing to hear these empowering stories.
Hootathon, Forgione said, “is a way to give back to the hospital that has given me so much!”
“Too many people go through life without understanding the hardships other people have because they haven’t personally experienced it. Hootathon shows people that not everyone can be so lucky, but we can do something to help,” she said. “Hootathon 2015 is already in the works and if they let alumni dance I may just be on that dance floor!”
Forgione, who has been extremely active as a student at Temple, said her experiences at Hootathon are like no other.
“To see the kids, treatments, staff, breakthroughs and, most importantly, the hope at CHOP is amazing. It’s an opportunity to give thanks and be grateful for your health,” she said. “Everyone should do it. It’s the best experience I’ve had at Temple and it’s a chance to be part of something bigger than yourself; to make a connection with the university community.”
Forgione’s connections and dedication to Temple Ambler run deep.
“I’m on the Ambler Campus Program Board — I was the President last year but since I’m only here for one semester this year before graduation, I decided to step down,” she said. “I also work in the Ambler Administration Building. I answer phones, make signs for events and help with small projects — basically, whoever needs me, I’m there!”
She’s also proven to be an excellent ambassador for the campus, serving as the Ambler Campus Homecoming Queen in 2013.
“It was so exciting!” she said. “I’ve never been homecoming queen before and I got to represent the University my very first semester here!”
Even with all her responsibilities, she stays focused on graduating and life after college.
“I didn’t come to college knowing history was an area I wanted to study; I just kind of fell into it,” she said. “I always liked history so I figured I’d give it a try, then I fell in love with my first two classes, Ancient Civilizations and American History up to 1800. I also had a great teacher.”
The choice of coming to the Ambler Campus, Forgione said, was obvious for her.
“I like being at Ambler more,” she said. “It’s so quiet and peaceful, and it’s close to home.”
As graduation looms larger in her future, Forgione is keeping an open mind about her plans for what to do after Temple.
“I don’t have anything lined up for after graduation just yet, but I’m going to keep working in the Administration Building until June so I have some time to figure out what I want to do,” she said. “I think I’d like to work in a museum. I volunteered in a historic mansion over the summer hosting the living and dining rooms and it was a lot of fun. My dream job would be working with the American Girl Doll company — I love that each doll has their own history behind it…and they don’t have one named Assunta yet!”
Temple Ambler, Forgione said, “has really shown me how to be a leader.”
“Many aspects of it are run by the students for the students and I had the chance to work directly with Dr. Wanda Lewis-Campbell (Assistant Dean for Student Life) who always had wonderful insight,” she said. “Temple in general is a great outlet for building leadership skills. I really believe it helps you to be a more well rounded person.”