Terp Thon: Dancing for the Greater Good

Last spring, I danced, laughed, cried, took pictures, sang to 90’s music, won a raffle, met the UMD soccer team, and realized how truly blessed I am. Last spring, I participated in Terp Thon, an event hosted by the University of Maryland where students pledge to remain standing (but mostly dancing) for 12 hours straight in order to raise money to benefit Children’s National Medical Center.

Last year, I signed up for this expecting to have a fun night dancing with my friends while taking some fun and colorful pictures.

This year, I’ve registered as a fully involved member on the Events committee who is dedicated to ensuring that the children and families Children’s National helps are further sustained by our fundraising efforts.

(For a full list of how revolutionary and life changing this event was for me, check out my post from last March.)

I guess over the summer I’ve forgotten how much I love helping others, and I haven’t really volunteered my time to help those in need. But, now that I’m registered for this year’s Terp Thon, I’ve recommitted myself to service and helping children put a smile on their face.

389781_10151579696395695_2051817362_n (1)I don’t think I could ever again be involved in something quite as meaningful and revolutionary as Terp Thon, and I am absolutely thrilled to continue my fundraising efforts and shake my tail feather on that dance floor one last time during my senior year of college.

That being said, *cough* you knew this was coming *cough*, if anyone would like to donate, my new and shiny donor page (with a rather lofty donation goal) is listed HERE. All I’m asking for is a dollar or two, just enough to make you realize that you’ve contributed to drastically improving someone’s life. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

Last year we raised over $300,000, and I'm just asking for a donation of a dollar or two

Last year we raised over $300,000 for the most inspirational kids you’ve ever met

But even better than a donation, would be a pledge to help out someone in your local community. Donate your time and efforts to a cause that you really care about, and you’re bound to make a difference.

I know that it’s easy to say you’ll get around to it, or that it’s a nice thought and you’ll do it later, but I mean right now. I’m telling you to Google volunteer opportunities near you, and actually and immediately follow through with them. You might be surprised the impact that it has on your life.

Because I was hooked on volunteering as soon as I saw the smile on Trevor’s face.

Comments, Questions, Concerns?

I enjoy posting new additions to my blog, but one thing I adore above all else is viewing other people’s blogs.

I love the opportunity to hear what other people think about issues that I care about. I relish the opportunity to view new pictures and quotes that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. I can’t wait to scroll through the WordPress reader and see how my day will be affected by each blog that I read. And above all, I love letting others know that I appreciate the time they’ve taken to post!

wordpress like buttonThere’s (almost) nothing better than getting an email alert or seeing that little star icon to let you know that someone has liked your post. At least one person out there in the whole wide world took the time out of their day to let you know that they enjoyed something you wrote, and that’s a big freakin’ deal! And providing that same feeling of elation for someone else is just as great a feeling!

How long does it take to like a post? One second? Two seconds? Maybe even half a second! And in that second, you can completely brighten up someone’s day.

wordpress commentAnd the one thing better than a like? A comment! There’s (absolutely) nothing better than getting a request to approve a comment, or seeing that speech bubble icon let you know that someone has so thoroughly enjoyed your post, that they took a whole minute out of their hectic day to think of something unique and special to say! Even if I only put as innocent a comment as, “Wow, your cat is so cute!”, I know it’s made someone’s day, and in turn, that makes my day!

It’s truly better to give than to receive. So don’t be stingy with that “like” or “comment” button, and be sure to share the love and get some happiness coming your way!

Need Directions? I’d Love to Help!

For some reason, I absolutely love it when people ask me for directions. I feel thrilled whenever someone approaches me with a confused gleam in their eye and a dejected shrug in their shoulders.

Mostly I get asked while roaming the streets of the University of Maryland, as it is so easy to get lost in the 1,250 acres of rolling hills.  Sometimes I’ll even approach people who are oh so obviously lost. They try to hide their crumpled map and frustrated sighs, but I seek them out and gladly offer up my services.

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Giving directions is a wonderful way to boost your self-confidence. I know it seems silly, but there is nothing better than proving your literal street smarts and helping others in a simple way. It’s also nice to affirm that you know your way around in the world and are so confident with the path you’ve chosen that you’d like nothing more than to share that path with the poor lost souls of the world.

Maybe I’m reading too much into telling someone to take the first left and find the Benjamin Building on their right, but I truly love giving directions and knowing exactly where I am.

(Strangely enough, I also love asking for directions. I think it’s because I’m offering someone the chance to experience the same delight that I feel when called upon to perform in the line of societal duety.)

Letters to Soldiers

Every Monday people from my dorm gather together for Manicure Movie Monday. We paint colorful designs on our nails, laugh at classics like Bruce Almighty, and enjoy each other’s company. But this past Monday, we added something a little more special to the agenda. We wrote letters to soldiers deployed overseas.

At first I was nervous about what I was expected to do. The idea that my words would be responsible for a soldier’s entertainment or relief from their current circumstance was daunting. I delayed writing my letter until my nails were painted. But after I had applied my last coat of Ruby Ruby, I was still afraid of scribbling some words onto sheets of colorful construction paper. I delayed writing my letter until Bruce found true happiness and contentment being himself.

Yet, even after the film, I was still unsettled by the notion of having to write; something I’ve enjoyed doing since a young age. I didn’t want to create letters that lacked originality, purpose, or creativity, and I knew that the soldiers who would be receiving my letters deserved much more than I could provide for them. But, then I also realized that those brave men and women did deserve something, and who was I to take away what they’ve so clearly earned?

I wrote 6 letters that day. They didn’t contain much, just my deepest gratitude for the courage they’ve shown in service, and some random tidbits about the crazy Maryland weather. I tried my best to lace my words with emotion and appreciation, but even if all they take away is that it was snowing here at the end of March, I think that’s a job well done, because they know that someone, somewhere, is thinking of them.

letters to soldiersThis isn’t our box of letters, but I’m grateful that other people are dedicating their time to supporting such a worthy group of individuals.

Thank you soldiers!

Alternative Spring Break

For the past year or so I’ve been attempting to try new things and expose myself to new experiences and activities. So, fall semester of last year I applied to participate in an alternative break program sponsored by the University of Maryland. I received my first choice assignment, spreading awareness of domestic violence in Knoxville, Tennessee, and last Saturday we departed in 2 vans, traveled for 9 hours, and made 13 beautiful friends.

The first place we went was the Appalachian Museum where peacocks roamed around an open area, bedpans were considered the ideal of creating musical instruments, and small shacks were expected to hold a household.

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After, we walked around a lake and listened to a bunch of old people play bluegrass music in the museum. What a way to connect with a group! We had a blast getting to know each other and explore this beautiful and sunny area.

Over the next couple of days we got down to the real work and collaborated with the YWCA to assist women who were rebuilding their lives, chalked in Market Square to spread awareness, visited a courthouse where they were processing domestic violence cases, and explored the Family Crisis Center. While it felt amazing to help the survivors of this all too frequent problem, the truly wonderful moments all came from my gaggle of girls.

734013_10200207791871636_917922898_nEvery night we would put loving comments into paper bags for each member of the group, describing a quality or occurrence that we loved about that particular person. We also placed statements about what we were hoping to receive from the trip on a huge bulletin board that made us feel accomplished by the end of the week. In addition, we shared amazing and inspiring stories about our lives, the highs and lows of our day, and three jars of creamy peanut butter. I can’t believe I could have gotten so close to so many people in such a short amount of time, but that’s what happens when you put yourself in a situation where you can meet sweet and like-minded people.

I did something good for the community in terms of spreading awareness of domestic violence and speaking to the availability of resources for those in need. And in turn, I was rewarded with 13 great friends whom I hope to keep in contact with even after our trip. No matter what it is you choose to do, if you put good energy  into the world, you can expect to receive good experiences back.

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Party With A Purpose

Yesterday, I participated in an annual UMD event, Terp Thon. Basically, this is a campus dance marathon where students pledge to stand for 12 hours in order to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital to take care of children suffering from various conditions and make their hospital experience enjoyable rather than excruciating. Throughout the night, some of the children who have benefited from Children’s Hospital get on stage and speak of their experience. This program has been at Maryland for the past 4 years, and though I’ve heard about it before now and have always considered myself a dancin’ fool, I never actually got up the courage to go until this year.

I was thrilled to finally be going to Terp Thon. All I really expected from it was to have a good time with kickin’ music, a fun-loving crowd, and some entertaining events along the way. I raised $110 dollars to participate (a whole $10 over the minimum) and set off Saturday at noon to have a good time with some of my friends. Those orchestrating the event got up on a big stage in the middle of our indoor stadium and began going over the logistics of the night and a few events that would be taking place.

The beginning of Terp Thon

The beginning of Terp Thon

I was too busy trying to contain my excitement at the large crowd wearing matching neon shirts to pay much attention. My senses were overloaded with long-forgotten 90’s music, those colorful T-shirts, and the wonderful feeling of dancing without a care in the world.

But, I quickly came to realize that I had vastly underestimated what Terp Thon was about. The first child that came out on stage was about 2 years old and kept hiding behind his mother as she spoke about their family’s ordeal with the young kid’s aggressive form of cancer. Whoa. I was tearing up before she finished her speech. Where did this come from? I thought this was a dance party.

389781_10151579696395695_2051817362_n (1) (Trevor was the happiest youngster at this whole event.)

I knew it benefited children like little, shy Trevor, but I had no idea the amount of help him and his family needed, or the amazing support Children’s National provided them. I felt immediately guilty for not raising anymore money for these wonderful and deserving families. I felt guilty for coming to this event and expecting to have a good time while others were suffering. I felt guilty that I couldn’t do more, contribute more, be more for those that needed it.

This night was never about me and my sense of fun, it was always about the kids. Kids like Luca who has a brain disorder, Olivia who suffered from Spina Bifida, Lucwein who found a tumor in his left femur, or Hannah and Noble who had to get their legs amputated after a series of complications. All of these children and their families got the chance to speak to the 2,000 student participants who showed up to raise money for families just like theirs, and it moved me to pieces.IMG_1854 I don’t even feel the need to mention what kind of food they served, or the activities they held, because all you need to know is how much people out there need your help, and that any amount of aid you give, means a world of difference to others. Together, the University of Maryland’s Terp Thon raised $306,735.45 for those that are in need.

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My message to everyone is this, do something for others. It doesn’t have to be much, because any amount of effort that shows you care is just as valuable to the less fortunate. Terp Thon and the Children’s Miracle Network’s slogan is FTK, For the Kids. And when I participate next year, I’ll be sure to keep in mind those less fortunate than me and work to improve their own circumstances, not just look out for my own interests.

Also, it was still a lot of fun!

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P.S. Expect me to request donations from everyone next year, or feel free to donate right away at: http://www.terpthon.org/donatenow.php