Months earlier as Dakota and staff from Cunningham's Transitional Living program talked about her goal - to give back to the children's hospital that had cared for her when she was a critically-ill 5 year old - the idea of a charitable car wash began to take form.
Dakota has always been grateful for the care she received from Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was diagnosed with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain which led to a two-week long coma. During that scary time her prognosis was uncertain. As the swelling receded and she came out of the coma, she needed extended physical and speech therapy.
"The doctors at Riley did a great job! I am so very happy to be alive, healthy, and well," said Dakota.
Once the decision was made to hold a car wash, Cunningham staff worked with Dakota teaching her how to promote, plan, and coordinate a fundraising event. She learned how to design a flier. She found volunteers to help wash the cars. She promoted the event encouraging car owners to stop in for a quick clean up. In the end, using supplies she purchased with her birthday money, she raised $300 to give to the hospital, and learned valuable life lessons along the way.