Through their countless hours of community service, bold leadership and active involvement in a diverse array of causes and organizations, Vols have been able to profoundly impact both the UTK campus as well as its surrounding communities.
One organization in particular — VOLthon — has been working tirelessly over the years to raise awareness and support for a key issue in our community: pediatric health.
VOLthon is a student-led UTK organization that is part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon (MNDM) program. MNDM is a national program composed of over 350 individual events, each of which is hosted by an individual organization that works to support a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
Nicole Maestri, VOLthon president and a senior majoring in advertising, elaborated on the significance of the program.
“As a Miracle Network Dance Marathon program, the power of change is given to the students to provide support to the patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and ensure that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone,” Maestri said.
As part of the MNDM program, VOLthon hosts an annual dance marathon, also known as the organization’s Main Event, during which participants can take part in team dance offs, enjoy a number of entertainment acts and games and interact with families from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, all while fundraising money to support the hospital.
The event lasts twelve hours, and with plenty of activities and things to do, the organization hopes to use this event to support and stand in solidarity with ill kids everywhere.
Haley Reeves, VOLthon vice president and a senior majoring in kinesiology, explained what participants can expect when they arrive at VOLthon’s upcoming Main Event.
“We host what we call our Main Event in the spring; this year it will be on February 22nd from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Meals and a T-shirt will be provided. During the event, participants will have the opportunity to dance and play with some of the kids from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital! They will also be able to fundraise and buy some great VOLthon gear,” Reeves said.
In addition to its Main Event, VOLthon is also active year-round in its efforts to support East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and pediatric health in our community.
“Throughout the year, we host events, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities to help raise money and awareness, such as percentage nights and weekly volunteer opportunities at (East Tennessee Children’s Hospital),” Maestri said.
The hard work is definitely paying off. Last year, VOLthon raised a record-breaking $138,764.19, an impressive figure under any context, let alone for a student-led organization.
VOLthon hopes to maintain their strong support for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and their efforts towards improving pediatric health in our community, but in order to do so, continued community involvement is imperative.
There are a number of ways to get involved in the organization, which include signing up for the Main Event, donating directly to the organization and for first-year students, joining the organization as part of its Year One Leaders committee.
“Any UT student can register for VOLthon by going to volthon.org. Click on our "Get Involved" tab, and scroll down to hit ‘Join Now’ to become a Miracle Maker,” Reeves said. “Each person who registers with VOLthon will get their own Fundraising Portal with a link that they will be able to send to friends and family and post on their social media pages.”
Donations as well as applications for the Year One Leaders committee can also be submitted on the VOLthon website.