Weekend RebelTHON Fundraiser Aiming High ‘for the Kids’

UM student participants dance to raise funds for Baston’s Children’s Hospital during RebelTHON 2018. This year’s marathon begins at 1 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 16) in Tad Smith Coliseum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Emphasizing that it’s all “for the kids,” RebelTHON organizers at the University of Mississippi aim to make the 2019 dance marathon to benefit the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the UM Medical Center its most successful event ever.

This year’s event begins at 1 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 16) in Tad Smith Coliseum. The entertainment will be similar to last year’s event, but some details are being kept secret in hopes of surprising the dancers and families.

“As a senior in college who has been involved with dance marathon all four years of my college experience, I stand strong in saying that being part of this movement and this organization on my campus has been something truly special and truly life changing,” said Ashley Mayberry, of St. Louis, UM president of RebelTHON.

“There are many other things we could be doing in college, but I believe this the best possible way to spend my time, efforts and money. Every dollar that RebelTHON raises is one more dollar going to help a child. That is incredible.”

Organizers have set a goal to raise $300,000 by the end of the 12-hour dance marathon.

Among those helping raise funds for RebelTHON is Aubrey Armstrong. The 14-year-old Oxonian, who was born with Down syndrome, is the spokesperson for Batson Children’s Hospital and the reigning Mississippi Miss Amazing Junior Teen.

Physical, occupational and speech therapies have been part of Armstrong’s care, and she continues to see specialists in otolaryngology, endocrinology and ophthalmology through Children’s Miracle Network of Mississippi.

“I want to thank Batson Children’s Hospital for taking good care of me,” said Armstrong, who is seeking to raise at least $2,500 herself for RebelTHON. “I love the doctors and nurses there.”

The event is a major boost each year for the hospital, said Jennifer Hospodor, director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and community-based fundraising for the UM Medical Center.

“RebelTHON is an enormous inspiration to our team, and more importantly, it inspires our patients,” Hospodor said. “To see this group of college students work together like they do, with different personalities and backgrounds, all for the sake of our patients, is extraordinary.

“And then to see how their hard work pays off in such a big way makes their efforts truly astounding. We are all so grateful for these students and the countless hours of hard work they put in for the kids. Inspiring may not cover it.”

Anyone interested in attending the event should visit http://www.rebelthon.org and click “Register.” Participants can sign up until the day of the event, but each person must raise $100 to attend.

For those who cannot attend the full dance marathon, a community block party is set for 4-7 p.m., when any student or member of the LOU community can pay $5 to see what RebelTHON is all about.

Anyone interested in donating to RebelTHON can go to the website and click “Donate.” The site allows donors to designate a specific dancer or give to the event in general. Donations will be accepted throughout the event until one hour before the final reveal.

“We get to hand our hospital a check,” Mayberry said. “Last year, it read $265,912.30 FTK (for the kids).”

To learn more about RebelTHON, go to http://www.rebelthon.org.


By Edwin B. Smith

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