BuckeyeThon, one of the most visible programs that Ohio State, has a hidden element.
Every year, BuckeyeThon includes 15 similar fundraisers, hosted by central Ohio high schools, called “mini-thons.” The events assist Ohio State in raising money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital — last year, $84,000 was raised from mini-thons.
In 2017, BuckeyeThon — which raises funds for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant floor — raised $1.5 million.
Hannah Staats, the director of high school events for Buckeyethon, emphasized the importance of outreach to Columbus high-school students in making the program successful.
“We try very hard to get [the students] not only educated on philanthropy and what philanthropy can do, but also on the leadership development piece within them,” she said. “We feel that we have a very unique thing to offer high schools.”
Depending on the school’s preference, it can fundraise in a variety of ways including going door to door, placing receptacles at local businesses or having car washes. It all leads up to its own condensed version of the dance marathon.
The high-school students that choose to be involved are invited to attend the dance marathon at the Ohio Union, which will begin Friday, to enjoy the event and meet the families that benefit from the funds that are raised.
“Yes, we want them to fundraise, but we more importantly want them to understand why they’re fundraising and why it’s important,” said Staats, a fourth-year in biology.
Imran Nuri, a second-year in finance and now the incoming president of BuckeyeThon, played an integral role in his high school district’s dance marathon, DublinThon.
“I learned to be passionate about pediatric cancer,” he said. “It wasn’t something that I had any connection with, but it meant a lot to me in high school, and it means a lot to me now.”
Every BuckeyeThon high school has an Ohio State mentor to help create events and set and reach fundraising goals, but when it comes to the day of their individual events, the hosting falls to the students.
“They have an adviser who’s there, but he tends to be a little hands-off, so the students are getting the most experience, the most professional development and personal development,” Nuri said.
While Nuri was heavily involved with DublinThon, he said when he got to visit another high school program last year, GahannaThon, he got to see the impact the high school program has on students from an another perspective.
“I remember seeing the passion that they had and I was like ‘Wow, this is BuckeyeThon,’” he said. “Seeing them interact with the kids very genuinely and how much effort they put into these events really is touching.”
Rhea Gupta, a first-year in finance, was a key player in GahannaThon, BuckeyeThon’s top-fundraising high school. She said when she was growing up, she always knew Ohio State was her dream school, and being a part of GahannaThon and now BuckeyeThon reaffirmed her choice to become a Buckeye.
“Most high-schoolers don’t think that they can do something impactful in high school that really can change people’s lives,” Gupta said. “Having the kids there and being able to talk to their families, seeing them interact and be kids, I think that sparks something in people.
“These kids really went through a lot and we give them the opportunity to be kids,” she said.