RamTHON is a VCU student organization that fundraises to support the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Their yearlong efforts culminate in a 12-hour dance marathon where students stay on their feet dancing, playing games and spending time with the Miracle Families*, families with children that receive treatment from CHoR, who share their stories throughout the event.
RamTHON is a part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon movement that includes over 500 universities and high schools. Last Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, VCU’s second annual RamTHON raised $21,694.55 in donations for the sponsored Miracle Families.
“RamTHON is so important because it’s all of us coming together, eating, enjoying each other’s company and doing it all ‘For The Kids’,” Stephanie Thomas, psychology major and junior at VCU, said.
Over the course of the event, different themes were used each hour to keep dancers fresh and excited. Interspersed through the day were speeches by Miracle Family members, who shared their stories and emphasized the importance of continuing support for CHoR patients as they grow. Meghan Zapiec, RamTHON adviser, spoke about the importance of RamTHON’s support of the Miracle Families and their experiences.
“What is most inspiring to me about RamTHON is that their efforts are two-fold. First to raise awareness for the challenges and the strength of the Miracle Families who have received treatments at CHoR. There is nothing simple about have a sick child; standing for 12 hours allows dancers to understand a tiny glimpse of the strength the families have. Second, to raise money to help support these families. At the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, the patients and their families are the biggest priority. Events like RamTHON help to fund resources for the hospital that can allow for these families to have a more comfortable time in the hospital and with continued care as they grow and develop. And even when the families leave, they forever are a part of the CHoR and RamTHON families,” Zapiec said.
VCU’s RamTHON not only makes a lasting impact on these families, but also on members of the VCU and greater Richmond communities who participated throughout the day.
“A lot of people were tired after 12 hours of standing or dancing, but we all pushed through to dance. It was great to actually see us being a part of a movement and […] having the same reason for dancing. It’s all ‘For The Kids’. That is what keeps us moving,” Hien Vo, sophomore at VCU majoring in international studies, said.
If you are interested in joining the RamTHON executive board for next year, email Rachael Surles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.ramthon.org.
Click here to view more pictures from RamTHON 2017.
*RamTHON Miracle Families 2017
Born 13 weeks early, Allie weighed 2 pounds, 2 ounces. She was diagnosed at 16 days old with an infection that required surgeons to remove two-thirds of her small intestine. The infection also affected her brain, causing it to stop growing and leaving her with half of her cerebellum.
Today, Allie receives a number of therapies as well as intensive follow-up care with a team of more than 20 pediatric specialists at CHoR. She has achieved amazing progress marked by accomplishments like learning to pedal a bicycle, consuming food by mouth and expanding her vocabulary.
Blake currently sees eight specialists at CHoR. He has 14 different diagnoses and is fed through a G-tube to ensure he maintains his weight and caloric intake. Blake may have extremely complex medical needs, but he doesn’t let it slow him down. His mom says he’s always full of energy and ready to go!
Mireya and Jalen
In February of 2011, Mireya’s parents noticed unexplained bruising on her body. It was later determined by doctors at CHoR that the bruising was the first sign of something called severe aplastic anemia. Mireya was only four years old when she was diagnosed with this rare illness that acts a lot like cancer. Her only hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant.
After extensive testing of all her family members, they learned that her older brother, Jalen, who was just six years old, was a perfect donor match. Mireya would go on to receive two bone marrow transplants from her big brother, which was a very difficult procedure. Today, Mireya is in a new journey as part of the survivorship program, and Jalen is enjoying normal childhood activities while still staying very protective of his little sister.
Santiago was born at 24 weeks and two days gestation in March 2012. He spent a total of 161 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at CHoR. Thanks to the care he received as a newborn, he is doing well today and right on track with his developmental milestones. Santiago recently enjoyed becoming a big brother to baby Anina.
In the fall of 2013, at age seven, Anna was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Anna had been complaining of some abnormal symptoms and her mom, Cynthia, knew something wasn’t right. Anna received radiation and chemotherapy at CHoR. She likes to remember the fun things she did in the clinic – especially music therapy. In May 2014, Anna received a clear scan and is now cancer free!
After spending the first few weeks of his life in the Progressive Care Unit, Carter’s parents learned that their son had a very rare genetic disorder called Tetrasomy 18p. “As parents our emotions were all over the place,” remembered Carter’s mom.
Carter has been a patient of CHoR since he was one month old, and he receives occupational, physical, speech and feeding therapies on a weekly basis.
Carter enjoys visiting the mall to ride the train, listening to live music and playing with trucks and cars. He loves his family and visiting with friends, and as a result wants to have a party almost every day!