By Angela Roberts
On Monday, Oct. 2, the University of Maryland Terp Thon’s 300-member base united to celebrate Child Health Day.
Throughout the day, the club emphasized the importance of fundraising for children’s hospitals, welcoming a truck to campus to serve free Dunkin Donuts to better attract attention for the cause.
“The day was all about raising awareness for children’s health, encouraging everyone to get excited about the cause, and making sure that everyone knows that 62 kids enter a Miracle Network Hospital every minute,” said senior marketing and supply chain management double major Katie Harris, Terp Thon’s public relations chair.
“Isn’t that crazy? That’s a lot of kids who need our help.”
To honor this surprising statistic, the club also challenged its members to raise $62 throughout Child Health Day. Over 120 students joined this mass fundraising effort. Terp Thon provided participants with templates for crafting social media posts and encouraged them to email their friends and family members.
“We know it’s hard to get donations from students, so we have people request Venmos from their friends for two dollars or three dollars,” said Harris.
“Some bake cookies or brownies for their friends to deliver to them while they’re studying for a three dollar donation.”
Over her three years with the club, Harris has found unconventional ways to fundraise.
“I told my friends, ‘If you Venmo me five dollars, I’ll donate it to Terp Thon and I’ll post an embarrassing picture of myself on Facebook,’” she said. “So I have a whole album on Facebook called ‘Embarrassing Pictures of Me #FTK.’”
These little donations add up – last year alone, the club raised over $1 million for Children’s National Medical Center. Terp Thon’s generosity inspired the hospital to dedicate a nurse’s station in its name. Today, patients and visitors at Children’s National are served by the Terp Thon Bears Station.
“As an organization, we care about the kids at the hospital every day, but it’s really good to spread awareness to the general public and let them know that even though it’s easy to get caught up in everyday life, there are kids who are in the hospital every day,” said sophomore elementary education major Elizabeth McKinley, fundraising chair for Terp Thon.
The funds over many projects Terp Thon raised last year have gone towards constructing a “healing garden” on the hospital’s property.
Harris says the garden is specifically made for kids with medical equipment.
“It is really spacious and has outlets everywhere, so it allows kids with equipment to go outside and get some fresh air,” she said
Terp Thon’s contributions have also allowed Children’s National to provide each family with a child life specialist.
“Child life specialists basically act as liaisons between family members and the doctors,” said Harris. “So when the doctor comes in and says all of these weird medical terms, the child life specialist can make sure families understand everything and are comfortable with the treatment their child is receiving.”