Student organizations are being left to adapt and use their creativity to function during a pandemic. Like many clubs, this is true for Tigerthon, a club that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN).
Jenny Rudnicki, a junior human communications major who serves as External Assistant Director, said, “TigerThon is a group of students who raise money and awareness for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio starting at the beginning of the fall semester and ending around March of the spring semester with our big main event we throw.”
Tigerthon is part of a larger network of student organizations that help CMN help children and their families pay for their medical procedures.
Although the timing of campus closure in the spring was upsetting to most, Tigerthon was particularly let down. The notice of campus closure came just one week before their annual spring event, a dance marathon, which is their last fundraising opportunity.
Logan Muzyka, a senior neuroscience major and the executive director of Tigerthon, said “[Tigerthon] had the T-shirts ordered, the venue booked and every tiny detail figured out.”
Ashna Wagle, a junior biology major and the Recruitment and Retention chair, explains that after the cancellation of their event, Tigerthon turned to alternative methods of fundraising.
“Social media is our best friend,” Wagle said.
The week leading up to what would have been the dance marathon, Tigerthon used social media to advertise their fundraiser and ask their communities to donate.
“Surprisingly in the next week…we were able to surpass our fundraising goal and raise $19,000,” Muzyka said. “None of us expected that.”
Wagle continues that, “people were in a giving mood. These kids are already immunocompromised, and with the pandemic, people were more willing to give.”
Tigerthon’s goals apart from fundraising include advocacy for the children.
Wagle said, “I have to get college students to care about little kids, and a lot of times, they don’t.”
Trying to get students involved when on campus was a difficult task already, but with the added challenge of working remotely, Tigerthon had to change its strategy. Instead of tabling in Coates, Wagle will attend meetings of other student organizations and ask their members to participate in Tigerthon.
“[We are] trying to focus less on fundraising and more on advocacy. We just want to make sure people know they can join the cause,” Muzyka said.
In the midst of the pandemic, people are still dealing with financial problems. Going into the new school year, Tigerthon is taking into consideration the fact that people may be struggling financially during COVID.
“Our goals include raising $10,000 for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, having successful virtual mini and main events, transitioning well to this new environment to keep everyone safe and informing our community about the importance of CMN Hospitals and our cause,” Rudnicki said.
Tigerthon is still in the planning stages for their events, but they proposed challenges involving TikTok and activities that encourage people to be active in the outdoors.
Although students cannot gather in large groups, Tigerthon is making it possible to continue fostering community by connecting Trinity students to local San Antonio youth.
In order to continue their service-oriented goals, Tigerthon will be starting a letter-writing campaign to the children to help lift their spirits.
“Kids can’t have visitors right now due to COVID,” Muzyka said.
Isolation can be difficult for these children, but Trinity students will have the opportunity to reach out and make these kids feel less lonely.
“There are still kids who have cancer; there are kids who are sick with things that aren’t COVID who still need funds for their medical care,” Muzyka said.
The issues brought on by COVID, such as social isolation and financial strife, are only exacerbated by having existing medical conditions and debt. Trinity students have the opportunity to participate in community care and help mitigate the loneliness children may be experiencing.