Out of the many philanthropic events that take place at WSU, WarriorThon is one of the most upbeat.

WarriorThon, hosted by Warriors For The Kids, is a dance marathon event that raises money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) at Gundersen Health Systems. The event includes an eight-hour dance marathon, stories from children and their families, and games. Participants stay standing for the entire event to symbolize the fight against childhood illnesses.

WarriorThon 2018 will take place from 2 to 10:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in Kryzsko Commons. Early registration for WarriorThon costs $10 and on-site registration will cost $15.

To register for or donate to this year’s WarriorThon, visit https://events.dancemarathon.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2685.

Julia Jones, president of Warriors For The Kids (WFTK), helps spearhead this charity event because she’s passionate about fighting against childhood illnesses.

“We do what we do for the kids in the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They are fantastic children and deserve the best in life,” Jones said. “By raising money for them we are giving them the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.”

WFTK is a student organization that started two years ago by branching out from the Child Advocacy Studies Club (CAST). The organization focuses on childhood illness and disease by raising awareness and funding for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“The cause and hospital is near and dear to me because when I was little, I had back surgery and stayed at Gundersen Health Systems. Although it does not seem like a big deal, the CMNH helped my family with meal vouchers,” Jones said. “At the time, I was in a family of nine people. A lunch for nine people costs a lot so having the ability to see my family for lunch while at the hospital was great. I know my parents were very thankful for it too.”

Throughout her life, Jones has seen many people struggle with a range of illnesses. She lost her own father to cancer, and in seeing his suffering, she became empowered to assist other cancer patients in any means she could provide.

“Knowing that this money can help these children and many more makes me hopeful that there will be a day when they do not have to battle anymore and instead, are able to live their lives to the fullest without the worries,” Jones added.

WFTK has hosted WarriorThon for the past three years and has raised $20,000 for local children and families supported by CMNH at Gundersen Health Systems. WarriorThon is one of 300 dance marathon events across the country that raises money for local programs.

Last fall, WarriorThon received recognition for “Outstanding Youth In Philanthropy” by The Association of Fundraising Professionals. WFTK was recognized at the 32nd Annual National Philanthropy Day® Awards Luncheon at Western Technical College, Lunda Center in La Crosse, Wis.

Besides raising money and hosting the dance marathon, WFTK makes birthday and holiday cards, pictures and posts cards for the children in the hospital.

“No one likes being in the hospital so these things are just little ways that we brighten the days of those there,” Jones added.

On top of the opportunity to improve the lives of local children, WFTK creates the opportunity for students to develop their social awareness and leadership abilities, earn volunteer hours, and encourage the campus to be a part of a powerful movement.

For more information, contact WFTK faculty advisor Aurea Osgood at Aosgood@winona.edu.

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Brian Waldbillig

Brian is a Public Relations major and Communication Studies minor from Farmington, MN. His hobbies include photography, hiking and going to concerts.