Ending Childhood Illness One Dance Step at a Time

By Frances Clause 

Youngstown State University’s Guinathon, a student organization with a yearlong movement dedicated to saving children’s lives from childhood illness, hosted its second annual Miracle Week from Oct. 1 through 6.

Guinathon is partnered nationally with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and raises funds and awareness for Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. All proceeds benefit the hospital to fund new programs and equipment and uphold the promise that no child is turned away for any reason, including an inability to pay, according to Guinathon’s website.

Throughout Miracle Week, students and community members made donations and participated in special events around campus including a pie-in-the-face fundraiser, paint-a-pumpkin and the Fall Fire Fest. By Oct. 3, $3,000 was reached for the “3k in Three Days” goal.

Francine Hazy, public relations manager for Guinathon and junior psychology major, said the main purpose of these events was to get students involved and encourage them to sign up for the eight-hour Miracle Network Dance Marathon in February 2019.

“At the dance marathon, students and faculty join Miracle Families to dance and reach Guinathon’s fundraising goal,” Hazy said. “Last year at YSU’s dance marathon, the fundraising goal was exceeded, and [Guinathon] hopes to accomplish that again.”

Last year, $45,073.94 was raised, exceeding the goal by over $15,000. This year, the fundraising goal is $62,000, representing the 62 children treated every minute at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

Hazy said the best way for people to get involved with Guinathon’s cause is through their website and social media channels. Updates on events throughout the year, tips on how to fundraise money and challenges for those who aim to end childhood illness are posted on these platforms.

“Getting involved with Guinathon is a life-changing decision because the mission is one everyone can identify with, and hearing about the impact that Akron Children’s has on the Miracle Children and their families is inspiring,” Hazy said.

Nicole Clark, internal director of Guinathon and a senior middle childhood education major, said the organization educates students and the community about Miracle Families throughout Miracle Week.

“For Child Health Day on Oct. 1, Guinathon used the slogan ‘Commit for the Kids’ to spread awareness about childhood illness and Guinathon’s Miracle Families,” she said. “Guinathon has about 8 to 10 families that come to the dance marathon in February and some that come to Miracle Week events.”

Clark said a Miracle Family that goes to all of Guinathon’s events is the Plant family.

Sarah and Chris Plant, parents of Rebekah, Sam and Alma Plant, watched all three children receive treatment at Akron Children’s Hospital.

“Rebekah spent the first 70 days of her life in the NICU of Akron Children’s, and then had open heart surgery,” Sarah Plant said. “Our son, Sam, used the emergency department there because of his food allergies, and even our baby daughter, Alma, had trouble breathing when she was just a week old.”

Sarah Plant said Akron Children’s Hospital and Guinathon have done more than impact her family.

“It’s incredible to see college students working so hard to help kids they may never meet,” she said. “Besides how fun the dance marathon is for everyone, my favorite part is how each student there is a real life hero to my kids.”

Miracle Week concluded with a message from President Jim Tressel, thanking everyone’s effort toward Guinathon’s cause. Student Government Association President, Ernie Barkett and Executive Vice President, Caroline Smith, also encouraged students to sign up, donate and raise money leading up to the dance marathon.

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