One year ago on March 6, I was selected to serve as the Overall Director for Texas THON.
On a weekly, if not almost daily basis, I get asked why I do THON, what makes Texas THON special and what Texas THON even is. My answers are always simple:
Nothing can explain the mission of Texas THON better than the story of a Miracle Child.
Little Sara was just three years old when she was diagnosed with Stage III Burkitt’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite the odds, Sara proved her fighting spirit as she successfully underwent more than 10 rounds of chemotherapy in just six months at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas to be cancer-free today.
She loves dancing and cheerleading, the color pink, parties and her little brother Drew. Every year at Texas THON's Day Of, Sara schools me on the dance floor and enthralls the room with her spunk, personality and love of life.
Sara inspires me again every year. She is truly a miracle, and one of many Miracle Children helped by Dell Children’s.
I THON, I dance and I stand for little Sara, for Stephanie, for Princess, for Caleb, for Harley, for Patton, for Amanda, for Olivia, for Skyler, and for EVERY Miracle Child treated at Dell Children’s — so that no child fights alone.
That's the mission of Texas THON, an entirely student-run philanthropy at UT and the largest dance marathon (which is exactly as it sounds) in the state of Texas. To raise funds and awareness for a medical center that treats 17 children every hour, every day, 365 days each year — many who fly in from around the nation.
To help foster a sense of philanthropy and create a culture of inclusivity here at UT. To allow over 500 UT students — with more joining each day — to realize the motto of “What starts here changes the world” by being a part of something bigger than themselves: a dance marathon movement through which college students like you and me have raised over $14 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a nonprofit that raises funds for children’s hospitals and of which Dell Children’s is a member, around the nation.
Texas THON is special because it helps bond the UT community by bringing over 75 student organizations and people from all areas of UT together on our 12-hour Day Of event — one day for one common purpose, and that one day of common purpose makes a life-long impact on the lives of UT students and families and kids at the hospital.
Just like nothing can explain the mission of Texas THON like the story of a Miracle Child, nothing can show you why we do what we do like our 12-hour stand. Although uncomfortable, standing for 12 hours allows us to raise money for children who need medical care. This year our Day Of is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Gregory Gym. To register as a Miracle Maker for the kids, visit TexasTHON.org and click on the "Register Now!" link to sign up with your student organization or residence hall, or come check out the event with a visitor pass available at the Day Of for $5 per hour.
Saastamoinen is Overall Director of Texas THON.
Correction: An earlier version of this article was misattributed to another member of Texas THON.