Nine years ago, Calvin Lee lay in a hospital bed awaiting a kidney transplant from his mother. But last summer, the 20-year-old found himself living his dream — rapping about his hometown in a recording studio.

Lee was born with acute renal failure, a disease that affected his kidneys. Although he received a donor transplant at birth, Lee was admitted into Shands Hospital for Children at UF at age 11 in need of another transplant.

He is one of 12 former Shands patients involved in the Milestone Campaign, a program by Dance Marathon at UF. The campaign, which began in summer 2012, aims to give these children the opportunity to live out their dream.

“It’s so nice to see the kids so happy,” said Dance Marathon Family Relations Overall Chair Sam Burd.

After his transplant, Lee began to pursue his dream of being a rapper.

Burd reached out to Gainesville’s Skylab Recording Studios owner, Gerry King, to land a recording session for Lee.

“[King] really wanted to make it the best day of Calvin’s life,” said the 22-year old occupational therapy grad student.

King met with Lee in July to discuss the song and began recording “Swamp Life” about his favorite team, the Gators, and his hometown, Gainesville, in August.

King gave Lee a free seven-hour recording session, which would have cost about $1,000.

“This was something we did out of our hearts and for Calvin,” King said.

Now, Lee is taking a break from Santa Fe College and is thinking about enrolling in barber school. He also plans to perform at Dance Marathon this year.

Lee said he was thankful to Dance Marathon for helping him live out his dream of being a rapper.

“It put a smile on my face,” Lee said. “It just motivated me more.”

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected].

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