College of William & Mary Senior Receives 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here. 

Dance Marathon Involvement: During my four years involved with TribeTHON at the College of William & Mary, I personally fundraised over $2,000 and served in the following postions: Executive Director (senior); External Director (junior); Finance Director (sophomore); Communications & PR Committee Member (Freshman)

Campus/Community Involvement: W&M Undergraduate Admissions (Tour Guide, Tribe Ambassador, Public Policy Liaison); Sigma Pi Fraternity (Secretary, Scholarship Chair, Judicial Board Representative); WCWM Campus Radio Station (Contributor to station magazine ‘Vinyl Tap’)

Awards/Recognition: Omicron Delta Kappa (National Leadership Honor Society), Pi Sigma Alpha (National Political Science Honor Society), Dean’s List (all semesters), Interfraternity Council Scholarship Award

Post-Graduation Plans: Starting in July, I will be working at Hanover Research in Arlington, VA! Hanover is a research/consulting firm that specializes in education. My goal is to become a leader in education policy reform and public administration.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

During my four years with TribeTHON, I have seen this movement grow from a mere idea in the minds of a few driven students into the most successful service organization on William & Mary’s campus. From expanding our steering team to establishing strong partnerships with local businesses to increasing our fundraising and registration numbers, I am so thrilled by all that we have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.

The personal contribution that I am most proud of from my involvement in Dance Marathon has been ​creating new traditions​ for TribeTHON to follow for years and years to come. Coming into this year as the Executive Director, I knew that I needed to get creative in order to expand our presence on campus. Rather than sticking to the model that had been established during our first three years, I challenged our limits and created many TribeTHON ‘firsts.’ In the beginning of the year we held our first-ever TribeTHON Kickoff in our campus center, where we had food, games, live music, and discounted early registration to get the entire campus excited for our big event in six months. In November, we coordinated a Dare-a-THON – a day to challenge your friends to do ridiculous things in exchange for donations to CHKD (I raised $1,500 and had to get 2002 Justin Timberlake-style frosted tips, which was a wonderfully embarrassing Thanksgiving table conversation piece!). Back in March, we began TribeTHON Miracle March Madness, a bracket-style fundraising competition with awesome awards for our ‘Final Four’ top fundraisers from generous local business sponsors. And later on, we hosted THONaroo, our first-ever music festival! At each of these events, I saw ‘it’ – I saw the same event years down the road with even more people, more momentum, and higher fundraising goals… all for the same incredible cause. I am so proud to have established these new William & Mary TribeTHON traditions, and I can’t wait to see what comes of them!

TribeTHON’s 2018 fundraising total reveal.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

If you were a fly on the wall during one of my job interviews this past year, you would know the huge influence Dance Marathon has had on my skills as an achievement-oriented leader. As a Public Policy and Philosophy double major, I have been equipped with an invaluable skill-set through my experience with Dance Marathon that I simply would not have not acquired in the classroom. Through my work with TribeTHON, I have learned to communicate effectively with a team, plan fundraising and recruiting events, manage a budget, conduct interviews, maximize social media outlets, create two-way partnerships with businesses, and motivate others through public speaking.

Dance Marathon has shaped me not just as a student leader, but as a ​person​. The lessons I have learned these past four years will remain with me for my entire life. The hardest (but perhaps the most important) lesson has been: you can’t do it all by yourself. As the Executive Director of this movement, I have developed the ability to delegate, to inspire, and to provide others with the tools that allow them to channel their skills and contribute to their fullest potential.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

The fight against pediatric illness is a cause that hits very close to home for me. When I was twelve, my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and my family’s world was turned upside-down. In what seemed like an instant, school, music, and sports turned into needles, scans, and chemotherapy. But during those difficult days, something magical happened – the doctors and nurses became members of our family, the cafeteria on the second floor became our kitchen, and the game room became our playroom. The hospital transformed into our second home. When kids are at their most vulnerable states and families are in need, a colorful, comprehensive, and well-funded children’s hospital is ​essential​.

Since my brother’s diagnosis, I have tried to do everything in my power to actively fight against pediatric illness. For five summers, I worked at Sunrise Day Camp, the only full-summer day camp, free of charge, for kids with cancer and their siblings. Hearing my campers’ stories inspired me to do more. As a freshman, when I learned about this brand new organization called ‘TribeTHON,’ I knew that this was my chance to not only continue the fight, but to strengthen it. I participate in Dance Marathon for my brother, for my campers, and for the kids (and families!) of CHKD.

Jason with a Sunrise Day Camp camper.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Among the billions of them, there are four main reasons why students should get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus.

(1) For the kids! The Dance Marathon cause is so incredibly important. Everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by pediatric illness. To join your college’s Dance Marathon is to join the movement of one generation fighting for the next. During your time with Dance Marathon, you will discover your own personal “Why” that will (literally) keep you moving on your feet.

(2) It’s fun! Getting involved with Dance Marathon is such an easy way to meet kind, friendly, and passionate students on your campus. For every bit that you give, you will get back tenfold.

(3) When you join Dance Marathon, you’re not just joining a campus club, you’re becoming part of a family. Fighting for the kids of your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital allows you to be part of something so much bigger than yourself, your group of friends, and even your campus. It’s an incredibly humbling experience. At the conclusion of TribeTHON’s 10-hour dance marathon, the feeling that rushed through me was not just one of accomplishment, but rather one of gratitude. I am so grateful for and inspired by everyone who made our movement possible.

(4) Your experience with Dance Marathon will teach you so much about yourself, your community, and the unparalleled power of collaboration. It has been a run-on joke within our TribeTHON Family that my amazing co-Executive Director, Jerry, is the starry-eyed dreamer, and I am the logistical realist; but my experience with Dance Marathon has taught me that by truly believing in yourself and your team, you really can accomplish anything. Dance Marathon teaches you that when you dream, dream big.

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

It’s as simple as this: donations to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital make miracles happen. CMN Hospitals stand firm with open arms for families in need the most. The financial challenges of running a children’s hospital are steep, but the future of CMN Hospitals is made possible by charitable supporters. Donations give hope to the kids and families enduring difficult times, and help them to fight one more day. Every kid deserves the chance to just be a kid.

Jason and members of the Tribe Thon executive board visiting Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va.

 


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $220 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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