RebelThon works all year to raise money for Jackson children’s hospital

Destiny Thompson
Oxford Stories

RebelThon is a yearlong fundraiser for the only children’s hospital in Mississippi, Blair E. Batson in Jackson. At the end of the fundraiser, a 12-hour dance marathon is held in honor of the money raised and the children fighting in the hospital.

To make RebelThon as successful as it has been in previous years, there are four different vice presidents, each with five to six directors, and committees for the directors. This large group of people work together to promote RebelTHON and ensure the swiftness of the event.

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Student Jared Poland registering for RebelTHON. Photo by Destiny Thompson

Brock Huerkamp is the vice president of communications. He is in charge of everyone because he oversees the brand “RebelTHON” and makes sure the campus and beyond knows about RebelTHON’s cause.

Huerkamp said he joined RebelTHON’s media team because it is a selfless organization, and he has “always been creative and thought of [himself] as a leader. [He] saw the application and thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Huerkamp is a public policy leadership major, and as vice president, he uses those skills learned to oversee the brand, graphics, and social media accounts. He creates Facebook filters, RebelTHON logos, for each fundraiser, and ensures the integrity and meaning behind the brand “RebelTHON.”

Hailey Cooper is president of RebelTHON and said she could not be prouder of her vice presidents, directors, and committee members. Cooper was a “last-minute dancer sign-up” during her sophomore year when her sorority sister agreed to humiliate herself for enough dancer sign-ups.

Cooper describes her job as “organizer, mediator, hype woman, and whatever else the day brings for the most incredible and inspiring humans on the planet.”

RebelTHON has an armful of media pump-ups for the community at Ole Miss. Some they have already done include the hashtag #WhyFTK, with which dancers explain what or whom compels them to dance; a Friday the 13 special encouraging all to raise $13 and share a funny Halloween picture; and a celebration of Child Health Day by pushing to register 410 dancers, the number of children admitted into Batson each day.

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RebelTHON button designed by Communications. Photo by Destiny Thompson

Huerkamp describes RebelTHON as a “chance to give back and give college students the experience of making a real change in the world.”

A single graphic on RebelTHON’s page includes colorful edges and a single sleeper sofa in the center. This graphic is used to demonstrate to students where their money went last year and where it will go this year.

While the money has helped remodel and make the hospital more inviting, most of the money is used to purchasing sleeper sofas for each child’s room, allowing their parents to sleep in the same room as the child while he or she receives treatment.

Cooper, as president, has gotten the opportunity to speak with families directly affected by the addition of the sleeper sofas. “You do not think about that dollar going towards a parent’s first night of sleep in a week, but it does,” she said.

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President Hailey Cooper with the #WhyFTK board next to her reason “more memories.” Photo by Destiny Thompson.

New graphics or design ideas are presented to the communications team each week, and it keeps the team members on their toes to produce the new graphic. When creating the graphic, they must also keep in mind RebelTHON’s aesthetic and overall theme related to color and mood.

RebelTHON uses bright colors that entice audiences and relates to the colors splashed all around the marathon’s venue and dancers.

The communications and technology team also periodically includes stories of RebelTHON miracle families and their children treated at Batson. This helps dancers relate to the fundraiser and sometimes convinces them to join in.

RebelTHON is a dance marathon and part of a bigger organization called the Children’s Miracle Network in which schools and organizations around the country do similar things for their own personal children’s hospitals.

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Dancers learning the FTK hand symbol. Photo by Destiny Thompson.

After fundraising until around February, dancers who raised at least $100 are invited to participate in the 12-hour dance marathon. During that time, Batson’s families are invited to a family room where they are able to play games, eat food, and interact with some of the college students.

The children are also invited to come on stage and dance with students.

During the event, the communications committee is scattered around taking photos, videos, livestreams, creating graphics and clips for social medias, and promoting the final project.

Without promotion and hard work, students claim it would not be as big as it is. It is the job of the communications committee to ensure that all dancers, reps, and students have the proper tools, information, and Facebook profile picture filters to pump up the rest of the school.

Tiny logos are put on every picture and colorful overlays are embellished on each feature image on the brand’s social media accounts. The hard work put in by Huerkamp and the rest of his team put the finishing touches on an already well-known fundraiser.

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