Photo provided by Mattea Zeinstra
Children and students laughed around ping pong tables. Yellow and red balloons adorned the Calgaard Gym of the Bell Athletic Center. A DJ played upbeat music on a decorated stage.
On Saturday, March 23, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. the TigerThon Miracle Network Dance Marathon took place to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
TigerThon, a philanthropic soon-to-be Registered Student Organization (RSO) on campus, teamed up again this year with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This non-profit organization holds Dance Marathons to raise funds for a network of 170 hospitals across North America.
“We’ve been working since the fall and it’s an ongoing fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. We’ve done a ton of different fundraisers, we’ve worked with kids and this weekend is our big event in which the kids come, and it’s a dance-a-thon,” first-year and TigerThon member Madison Horner said.
The TigerThon event serves both as a fundraiser and a celebration of the funds raised. Attendees must pay a $10 registration fee, which is collected in addition to donations to the fund. While approximately 75 students and community members attended the event, TigerThon received 198 registrations total.
Sarosha Hemani, senior and executive director of the dance marathon, wrote in an email that as of last Thursday they had already raised $10,200, passing their initial goal of $10,150 — the extra $150 serving to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the university.
By the end of the event on Saturday, TigerThon had reached $14,910.74 funds raised, nearly double last year’s $7,400. The donation portal is still open until Saturday, March 26 and has gathered a few hundred more since the event.
“To be honest I didn’t think we would even hit the 10k when we first set that goal so hearing that we doubled the amount since last year made feel so happy and proud of our team and the Trinity students,” Hemani wrote.
Led by executive director Hemani as well as senior Amulya Deva, chief finance chair, various TigerThon members spent a few hours daily tabling last week in the Coates Student Center to advertise the event.
Marketing, fundraising and advertising have been key focuses since the beginning of this semester. Each member has specific assigned tasks and are divided into committees such as dance relations, public relations and event committee.
“[In] my group, we go out and talk to sororities, fraternities, clubs and different student organizations on campus to tell them about the event and try to get a push-start to people registering for it as big groups,” first-year and TigerThon member Esther Omegba said.
The club also put on a sand volleyball tournament on March 1, which was quite successful. All the money from these registrations went towards the fundraiser, adding to donations from sponsors and community partners.
“That was a really great hit; all the kids came out. We raised a ton of money and it automatically registered them for the [dance marathon] event this weekend,” Horner said.
Finally, on Saturday, all the hard work of the club came to fruition.
At the front of the gym, a large elevated stage was set up, with a DJ playing music during the competitions, games and snacking. Calgaard was decorated with yellow and red balloons and streamers to match the “The Incredibles”-inspired shirts TigerThon attendees and staff members wore.
Banners held the phrase “For The Kids” or its abbreviated hashtag, “#FTK”, to remind attendees that all proceeds go to serving hospitalized children.
Senior and TigerThon member Ryan Pu explained the how the registered groups contribute to the fundraising process.
“The idea is that you make teams, like each sorority, fraternity, and other organization have teams. [Their job] is then to ask their family and friends to make donations over the course of the semester,” Pu said.
Throughout the five-hour-long event, various teams participated in games including ping pong, relay-races and more.
Before the dinner break and performances, by The Prowlers, Loon-E Crew and groups from the Momentum dance showcase, the mothers of the some of the children affected by these donations spoke about the importance of these contributions.
“My favorite part of the event was hearing the families tell their stories. I don’t think people realize how important their registration and attendance is until they hear a miracle story from someone who has really benefitted from the hospital,” Hemani wrote.
A few of these kids were at the event as well, as Pu pointed out.
“The coolest thing we have is we have some of the kids we’ll be helping [here at the event]: Jagger is here, Coy is somewhere playing ping pong probably and Heather and Holly are in the back. It’s cool to see them and it’s been an amazing experience.”
TigerThon’s event ultimately aims to raise funds in an interactive, creative way.
“The original idea was that the dancing is a celebration of the money we’ve raised, and dancing is just such a fun thing to do,” Pu said. “Sarosha, she brought the Miracle Network to Trinity because she loved to dance and she wants to pursue medicine as well, so it’s a combination of both of her worlds. We really just support her dream and her ideas.”
Hemani believes that TigerThon will continue to grow each year, even if it only gets to somewhere between a five to 12-hour event, rather than the longer events held by some organizations and universities (up to 48-hours). She also hopes the fundraising will continue to grow.
“This year I put my trust in Logan Muzyka, who is a sophomore, as my assistant director. She was a committee member in TigerThon last year and stood out the most to me in terms of dedication, commitment, and cause connection. She will lead TigerThon after me and I have full faith that by her senior year she could get TigerThon to raise close to $50,000,” Hemani wrote.
Those who wish to donate and help TigerThon reach $15,000 for this year can follow this link.