Medical Center of Central Texas

Students sign a wall made by Texas THON in the front of Gregory Gym on Wednesday. Texas THON is a philanthropic organization that raises money for Dell Children’s Hospital, which provides treatment to all children, regardless of their ability to pay.

Photo Credit: Yaguang Zhu | Daily Texan Staff

To prepare for its 11th annual 12-hour dance marathon, Texas THON invited students to sign a wall to express their support for patients at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

Texas THON is a student organization dedicated to raising awareness and money for Dell Children’s Medical Center by hosting a dance marathon every year. This year’s marathon will be Feb. 16 and the wall will be on display in Gregory Gym during the marathon. At the marathon, students pledge to stand for 12 hours straight in honor of patients that are unable to stand.

At Wednesday’s event, students and faculty signed the “Why We Stand” wall to explain why they participate in the dance marathon.

“I stand because I feel we are making a statement,” Rhonda Cox, Texas THON faculty adviser, said.

Dell Children’s hospital provides treatment to children from 46 counties, regardless of their ability to pay. Last year Texas THON raised $50,839.51. Cox said the goal is to raise $100,000 this year.

Cox said the children that overcome adversity inspire her passion for Texas THON. After a Texas THON benefit dinner, she gave Harley, a 14-year-old whose brain tumor is causing him to gradually lose his vision, a ride home.

“Even though he is blind, he is so engaged in what is going on,” Cox said. “He doesn’t see it as a deterrent.”

She said the organization hosts the event to help children overcome their medical conditions.

Several colleges across the nation host dance marathons to benefit Children’s Miracle Network, a foundation that aims to raise funds for children’s health care in local communities. Texas THON raises money for Dell Children’s hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network.

Kip Holmes, Children’s Miracle Network coordinator, said the hospital had 135,000 visits by children seeking medical attention last year.

“I feel like I have the dream job of the world because I get to raise money to help sick kids,” Holmes said.

She said Children’s Miracle Network is trying to raise $11 million to go toward building a new wing at Dell Children’s hospital. She said the group is also trying to raise funds for a magnetoencephalography, or MEG. The MEG is an ultra-precise imaging device for the brain, which Holmes said will enhance treatment for children with epilepsy and brain tumors.

Aaron Aranda, psychology sophomore and Texas THON member, said the event shows how students can make an impact.

“I stand for kids who are always in the hospital,” Aranda said.

He said when the marathon’s 12 hours are complete, the immense relief he feels when he sits down is knowing that he helped.

UT students and faculty who participate in the event are called “miracle makers.” To register for the event, miracle makers raise $100 to donate to the cause. Texas THON hosts several fundraising events through the year in addition to its dance marathon. Last week the organization raised $1,092 at THON Pancake Night.

Printed on Thursday, October 18, 2012 as: Texas THON dancers raise funds for children

Freshman Matthew Kelley, right, slow dances with freshman Anjali Sethi after a silent moment at the Texas Thon in Gregory Gym Saturday night. Thon participants raised over $50,000 for Dell ChildrenÂ’s Medical Center of Central Texas by standing for 12 consecutive hours.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Students from across campus came together Saturday to “stand for children who cannot stand for themselves.”

That is the motto of the Texas THON, an annual campus fundraiser benefiting the patients of the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. The event involved student volunteers who remained active on two legs for 12 straight hours as they participated in various themed activities. This year’s theme was reality TV, and events included a “Jersey Shore” contest, a pretend NASCAR race and a ballroom dancing lesson. The event raised $50,839.51, a campus record.

The Texas THON is a part of a similar network of events taking place on campuses nationwide to benefit hospitals that are part of The Children’s Miracle Network.

Kip Holmes, program director for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, said the event has evolved from the traditional dance-off theme that these fundraisers began with into something more relatable for today’s students.

“A lot of students don’t want to come to a dance-off anymore,” Holmes said. “We still have dancing, but there are so many other activities where the students don’t have to dance at all. Anyone can participate.”

Katie Raymond, English senior and event chair, said the event contained dozens of activities, along with free food and merchandise. Local sponsors included Rudy’s Texas Bar-B-Q, Texas Land and Cattle, Panda Express and Austin’s Pizza.

“So many groups participate,” Raymond said. “It’s students from all across campus and local groups working for the cause.”

Among attendees were some of the patients and their families. These families spoke throughout the event about their positive experiences with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and The Children’s Miracle Network.

Marlie Frasier, a child patient and THON participant, said the event is a fun way for the community to help the hospital.

“I am dancing so that the hospital can help children like me,” she said. “It’s so cool and so much fun.”

Rhonda Cox, faculty advisor of the event, said although Texas THON has expanded rapidly in recent years, UT is still well behind other universities with the amount of funds raised. Penn State, just this year, was able to raise over $10.6 million, Cox said.

“Penn State has set the standard for this fundraiser,” she said. “Their event is simply called THON, and they have to turn student participants down. We want to get there too. We want students to beg to get in.”

For next year, Texas THON is working to broaden their event even more, Holmes said. Various ways to catch local attention are being discussed.

“I would like to find a celebrity of something next year,” she said. “There is so much we could do with this.”

Printed on Monday, February 27, 2012 as: Students dance for children's hospital