Saturday marks the sixth annual RebelTHON event at Ole Miss and the executive board has set a hefty fundraising goal of $225,000. Participants and young patients will stay up from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. dancing and raising money for Batson Children’s Hospital, the only medical facility in Mississippi devoted to the care of sick children.
RebelTHON serves as a part of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ national Dance Marathon movement, a movement uniting college, university and high school students across North America. Students organizers of these campus dance marathons spend a year raising funds and awareness for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital before the event.
Hailey Cooper, president of RebelTHON, has been working with RebelTHON for two years. In those couple years, she’s gotten inventive with ways to fundraise.
“In terms of my fundraising, I’ve taken song requests with my flute that I haven’t played since high school, worn a crayon costume to class and taken dares like singing the Mississippi State fight song,” Cooper said. “I’ve heard some people this year recreating famous film scenes, carpool karaoke and wearing a prom dress to finals. People get so creative, and it’s really fun to watch.”
This weekend’s event consists of participants of dancing and staying on their feet for 12 hours as well as playing other games and enjoying provided refreshments. Anyone can sign up to dance for the full time as long as he or she raises a minimum of $100, or people can come between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and pay $5 at the door to stay for community hours.
Andrew Russell, Children’s Miracle Network coordinator, said the $172,000 fundraised last year went toward renovations for the children’s center cancer floor. This year’s totals will benefit the hospital’s new addition of a NICU, PICU, operating rooms and other items.
“I think this year, by far, the most amount of money will be raised,” Russell said. “The students do a good job of putting out the red carpet for these kids, making them feel special.”
Due to the major growth of participants this year, RebelTHON has outgrown its former location, the Turner Center, and the event will be held in the Tad Pad instead.
Senior biochemistry major Lexie Hill will be participating for the third time due to her personal connection with the Children’s Miracle Network.
“I wanted to be a part of RebelTHON because, as a former patient of my local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, I knew how important the work that hospitals like Batson do is,” she said.
From the time she was born to when she turned 18, Hill said her Children’s Miracle Network Hospital became a home to her.
“From providing the absolute best medical care to simple things like giving you toys and popsicles before and after surgery, hospitals like Batson go above and beyond to make you feel like a normal, healthy kid,” Hill said.