University of Maryland 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 involvement with Terp Thon at the University of Maryland, I personally fundraised $6,069.26 and served in the following positions: Fiscal Director (2017-2018), Finance Chair (2016-2017), and Advertising Committee Member (2015-2016).

Campus/Community Involvement: Present: Gamma Phi Beta Sorority (Financial Vice President- 2016); Phi Chi Theta Business Fraternity; Accounting Teaching Scholars; Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society

Past: College Park Scholars; Innovo Scholars Consulting Program; Academic Success and Tutorial Services tutor for Academic Achievement Programs; College Park Scholars Peer Mentor; Smith Leadership Institute Peer Mentor; Tax Intern at Ernst & Young; Head Counselor at Beth Tfiloh Camps

Awards/Recognition: Outstanding Citizen Award-College Park Scholars 2016; Dean’s List; Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society Membership; Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society Membership; The National Society of Collegiate Scholars Membership

Post-Graduation Plans: After graduation, I will begin working as a Tax Staff Accountant at Ernst & Young.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

When I was in 5thgrade, I was scared to go home one cold day in December. My dad had contracted a flesh-eating bacteria a year prior and, after a year of surgeries, medication and skin grafts, December 6thwas the day he was getting his leg amputated. In my head, I imagined that my dad would come home looking completely unrecognizable with a Transformer-style leg. I dreaded seeing my father, an avid tennis player and body builder, be so weak as he healed. My dad was supposed to be teaching me to ride my bike without training wheels, I was not supposed to be teaching him to walk on a prosthetic leg without crutches.

Nine years later when my parents dropped me off at the University of Maryland to start my freshman year, I heard about a 5K color run being put on by an organization called Terp Thon. I gathered my friends, who I had known for barely a month, to come with me because we thought it would be a fun photo opportunity. While I was there, I met one of our Miracle Kids, Amanda. Amanda, like my dad, is an amputee. I watched her as she finished the race faster than I ever could have, even when I ran cross country in high school. Star struck, I built up the courage to congratulate her. In talking to Amanda and her mother, I learned that she got her prosthetic leg from the same man who made my dad’s. Amanda was two and a half years old when she had her leg amputated. Today, she plays a sport every season in high school and excels in all of them. In just our short interaction, Amanda helped show me that even though my dad may have a placard on his car that says he is handicapped, being an amputee does not make you weak. As Amanda sings in a song by Kelly Clarkson every year at Dance Marathon, she truly inspires me to believe “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and I hope to share that message with others through my work with Terp Thon.

Allison’s dad with Miracle kid, Amanda, at Terp Thon’s 2016 Color Run.

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

Terp Thon is the primary reason I am the leader I am today. I have learned to use my passion to motivate others and encourage them to believe in the power they can have on the world as an individual. I have become a confident public speaker who can command a room of strangers. I have learned to think critically and creatively, while using data to rationalize my decisions. I now feel comfortable speaking to high level business professionals because of my experience securing sponsorships with Terp Thon. All of these newly refined skills helped me tremendously in my internship this summer, and I know they will continue to help me succeed in the future.

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

I am proud every time someone opens one of my signature grey-headed, pastel colored spreadsheets. As a student organization, we do not own land or buildings, so data is our most valuable asset. Data can be used to make better informed decisions and take risks that can allow us to grow. The kids and families of Children’s National Health System depend on our fundraising, and it is important that we are able to provide them with funding year after year. Each dancer has a unique reason why they registered to join our movement and each donor has a unique reason why they donated to support us, and we can use data to find those motivators to compel them to stay with our organization in the future.

No two dancers or donors are exactly the same. They are more than numbers on a spreadsheet, they are people. With that in mind, I designed a series of databases to track individual dancer and team growth in fundraising and recruitment over the last few years. Built from compilations of DonorDrive reports, the databases I created contain valuable information about our dancers and donors that will allow Terp Thon to continue to grow sustainably. Our data analyses allowed us to individualize our dancer contact and properly steward dancers for their growth in fundraising and recruiting over their time with our organization. We were also able to quantitatively track the results of our outreach so we could focus on techniques that worked. We determined that personal texts and phone calls with motivators based on fundraising levels were more effective than spending time drafting generic emails to be sent to all of our dancers. The data also helped us customize donor outreach to turn lapsed donors into donors who were integral in our 2018 fundraising total.

Allison on stage at Terp Thon’s 2018 Dance Marathon event.

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

Students should get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus because it will enhance their college experience. Through Dance Marathon, they have the opportunity to make lifelong friends while learning valuable leadership skills they will not get from any other student organization. While gaining so much, students are also able to give back even more to the kids who need it. Together, we have the power to impact a generation.

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

People should donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals because it will allow their donation to be more than a tax deduction, it will become an investment in a child’s future. As a future tax accountant, I know the power of the word “deduction” in motivating people to support nonprofits. But, with so many nonprofits, each with their own important and admirable missions, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is set apart because of its impact on the lives of children. One donor could be the reason a hospital is able to save a child’s life and give them the childhood they so deserve.

Allison with Miracle kid Samerya at Terp Thon’s 2018 Dance Marathon event.

 

Terp Thon 2017-2018 Executive Board.


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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