By Mackenzie Roche
In just 24 hours, Terp Thon members raised $125,462.09 for patients at Children’s National Health System in Washington D.C.- about $25,000 more than their original fundraising goal of $100,000 and about $20,000 more than they raised at the same event last year.
The day-long event, called Day of Miracles, encouraged Terp Thon members and the entire campus community to donate and raise awareness for the many children working to overcome cancer at Children’s National. From 12 p.m. Thursday to 12 p.m. Friday, students posted on social media, reached out to family and friends and Venmo requested contacts in order to garner donations.
Terp Thon Public Relations Chair Katie Harris said the Terp Thon team also paired with corporate sponsors and local businesses such as Echostage to gather donations. Echostage even conducted a donation-matching for several hours.
“Many people think we just do the dance marathon in the spring and then that’s it for fundraising, but we actually fundraise all year round,” said Harris, a senior marketing and supply chain management major. “Day of Miracles is our biggest fall event, but there’s also the color run and a few others, which are always successful.”
Harris became interested in Terp Thon when she was a freshman because it was a way to combine her love for children with her desire to make a difference in the world. Even when she studied abroad as an upperclassman, she stayed involved in Terp Thon and helped fundraise from afar.
She dedicated herself to this year’s Day of Miracles by monitoring social media and providing everyone with “social media toolkits” which helped specify what information should be included in posts. Harris also spent much of the day in what she referred to as the “Day of Miracles Hype Room”- also known as the student involvement suite in Stamp.
On Thursday, however, the student involvement suite was transformed into a fundraising hotspot. There were students everywhere working on laptops and reaching out to possible donors online. There were snacks and games to motivate participants and help them learn more about Terp Thon. Each time someone earned a new donation, he or she ran to the center of the room and hit a gong for everyone to hear.
Like Harris, junior finance major Alex Kershenbaum spent much of his day in the hype room fundraising and motivating his Greek Life relations committee. Though his enthusiasm for Terp Thon was clear Thursday as he handed out hospital wristbands he collected during his last visit to Children’s National, Kershenbaum said he was less than enthusiastic when he first joined the organization as a freshman.
“[The dance marathon] was just an event I had to go to with my fraternity, and I didn’t think much of it,” he said. But after the final numbers were announced and the Armory began to clear out, Kershenbaum said he began to feel attached to the organization. “My legs hurt, but it didn’t matter. I was hungry, but it didn’t matter,” he said. “I knew I had to keep coming back.”
Kershenbaum became his fraternity’s Terp Thon chair and then moved on to Terp Thon’s Greek relations committee. He stressed the importance of Day of Miracles because it brings people together for the cause long before the actual dance marathon.
Terp Thon members who could not make it to the hype room still worked diligently to get donations of their own. Sophomore criminology major Erin Esterson said she spent the few days prior to Day of Miracles driving her friends around and doing other favors in exchange for donations.
“I’m pretty much doing everything I can think of in order to raise money,” Esterson said. “With the matching campaigns and everything, a little can go a long way, and it doesn’t take much to make a difference.”