By Anna Keilly, NFTY-PAR Social Action Vice President
Mini-Thon has always been such a huge part of my school’s culture. It is a major point of focus from the beginning of of the academic year until the Mini-Thon itself in February. From selling t-shirts, to having boys wear dresses for a pageant, to attending assemblies and different meetings, Mini-Thon rallies the school together around a common cause.
Being Social Action Vice President has been such an honor this year. Doing what I love the most in the community I love the most has made my senior year so memorable. Nevertheless, I wanted to go a step further. I wanted to bring the energy of Mini-Thon, which I knew so well from school, to NFTY-PAR. What better time to do it than at our social action event, WINSTY? Making the Saturday night activity social action-oriented was the perfect way to end my favorite event.
Mini-Thon was embraced by NFTY-PAR with open arms. The idea was introduced through social media: between posters, videos, and a GoFundMe account, the NFTY-PAR Mini-Thon covered members’ newsfeeds on Facebook. We had two goals: raise $1,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and to make this event a fun success. I based the entire event off what my school does: starting and ending with and opening and closing ceremonies respectively, then having different events every half hour, with dancing throughout.
Everyone showed up on Saturday night in crazy outfits, excited to see what the night held in store. It started off with two impactful speakers: Jen Burke and Dr. Resnick. Jen Burke’s daughter had died of cancer and, as a result, she started the Sarah Smiles Foundation in her memory. Sarah’s story was shared by her mother, and we all learned the value of cards with inspirational messages, and what they do for the families and patients of CHOP. Then Dr. Resnick explained his research and passion for finding for a cure for cancer. Both of these speakers showed two equally important sides of cancer. One side showed us the personal effects of cancer, and the other showed us that hard work is being done to end cancer. It was important to see and hear how the money we rasied in our Mini-Thon would contribute to a greater cause.
After the opening ceremonies, the dancing began. We started with a lip sync battle, dance battle, some Coke and Pepsi, and ended with a lively round of Zumba. During the closing ceremonies we heard from Rabbi Stacy Rigler’s daughter, Maya, who is a cancer survivor. We heard her story and felt, again, the importance efforts like Mini-Thon. Danielle Strauss, the advisor of KIFTY, spoke next. She works at CHOP and, as a social worker, helps cancer patients in situations similar to the ones we heard earlier in the evening. Finally, I spoke, thanking everyone for their hard work and dedication to a cause so great, and explaining the importance of the entire weekend.
$1,628.18. We surpassed our goal by $628.18, and it was an amazing feeling to know that, as a community, we pulled together to donate a great sum of money to an amazing cause. As always, we had fun doing it. Groups of friends got up on stage and sang like no one was watching, everyone made at least one card for the Sarah Smiles Foundation, and people were surrounding Amanda trying to get videos of them dancing with her. A secret deal had been struck, that every video posted with Amanda dancing, $10 would be donated by her mother, Rosanne Selfon. Beyond all of the fun and hilarious memories, it was a night that left an impact, not only on our community, but on the CHOP Cancer Research Center as well. This Mini-Thon proved that giving back can be fun, and that social action is important, even if we don’t see the immediate effects.
Anna Keilly is excited about bringing new ideas around social action, justice, and advocacy to the region this year. If your TYG would like help creating a social action project or event, Anna would love to help and support you. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance!