WarrionThon inspires campus and community

Winona+State+Students+learn+to+Zumba+at+this+year%27s+Warriorthon.+The+event+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+23+is+a+seven-hour+dance+marathon+benefiting+Gundersen+Health+System.
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WarrionThon inspires campus and community

Winona State Students learn to Zumba at this year's Warriorthon. The event on Saturday, Feb. 23 is a seven-hour dance marathon benefiting Gundersen Health System.

Winona State Students learn to Zumba at this year's Warriorthon. The event on Saturday, Feb. 23 is a seven-hour dance marathon benefiting Gundersen Health System.

Morgan Reddekopp

Winona State Students learn to Zumba at this year's Warriorthon. The event on Saturday, Feb. 23 is a seven-hour dance marathon benefiting Gundersen Health System.

Morgan Reddekopp

Morgan Reddekopp

Winona State Students learn to Zumba at this year's Warriorthon. The event on Saturday, Feb. 23 is a seven-hour dance marathon benefiting Gundersen Health System.

McKenna Scherer, Features Reporter

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Winona State University’s Warriors For The Kids club, celebrated their fifth year working with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Gundersen Hospitals with their carnival-themed WarriorThon this past Saturday, Feb. 23.

Despite being in the midst of yet another hard-hitting snowstorm, WarriorThon ran as usual. WarriorThon is a year-long effort for Warriors For The Kids that spreads to the community of Winona and to the children and families affected by childhood illness. The group is relatively new to Winona State, currently in its third year of existence, having been founded around the desire to fully dedicate time to the preparation and execution of WarriorThon.

WarriorThon is an eight-hour event that occurs annually – although this year was cut to a six-and-a-half-hour event due to weather – working with Gundersen Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. With over 300 dance marathons happening across the country, Winona State is one of four schools that local-area Gundersen Hospital works with for this event. Winona State is the longest running program of the bunch, having raised over $31,000 in its first four years.

Previously, the event had been run by the Child Advocacy Studies Club (CAST) but once the event and its mission became larger than the agenda of CAST, Warriors For The Kids was born. Wholly committing to the event and fundraising year-round for childhood illness, the club has 10-15 students continuously involved in the club and its efforts.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for children and families going through childhood illness, having raised more than $250 million since 1991 in North America. With 170 participating hospitals, Children’s Miracle Network has provided 32 million treatments each year to kids through the United States and Canada, as stated on their website.

WarriorThon, held in East Hall of Kryzsko Commons, was marked by the trademark Children’s Network balloons that adorned the brick walls of the entrance into the main room. The names of those who had donated to the cause by attending the event were written on each balloon, and inside the hall, the atmosphere was buzzing around the groups of attendees who were participating in the student-lead dances.

Balloons and confetti surrounded guests while DJ Supafly, who has attended the last three years of the event, spun music behind carnival-themed games, popcorn and cotton candy machines. Further fundraising opportunities and lunch, donated by Winona State Chartwells, were also available to start the event off with high energy.

Other activities at the event included Henna tattoos, face painting, a ring toss, pin-the-tail, minute-to-win-it games, giant Jenga and more. This year, the Winona State hip-hop dance team performed as well as student-led Zumba and a dance group of elementary to middle school aged children from the Winona community.

Aurea Osgood, sociology professor and faculty advisor for Warriors For The Kids, gave insight to the hard work of the group, its purpose and the way this event gives back to the community and the children.

“It’s such a cool event, totally stressful in a really exciting way,” Osgood said. “We focus so much on making this a big event here.”

Student-involvement was another highlight to the event, with several groups on campus also attending the event together or fundraising, including Full Spectrum, Winona State University Love Your Melon “Melonheads” Crew, Alpha Sigma Tau, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Delta Phi Epsilon, Sigma Tau Gamma and UPAC. These groups alone raised over $2,500 for the cause.

This year, sponsors from the community included Winona State Chartwells, DJ Supafly, Erbert & Gerbert’s, the Winona State Bookstore, Target, and others.

“All of the money we raise and that people donate stays local, which is what’s really important,” Osgood said. “[The money raised] goes directly back to children and their families – 100 percent of it. Not just 93 percent or something less, but all of it goes to these families.”

The money donated goes toward helping families and children living with childhood illness. It helps with the little things: getting gas vouchers to travel to and from hospitals daily, meal tickets for those getting treated and their families and paying for new medical equipment. Warriors For The Kids has had their donations go toward things like horse therapy, a $750 camp for kids with diabetes and tablets and iPads to help children who have trouble verbally communicating. Their contributions and efforts like these that can go a long way, which is what the children who came to speak at the event continue to inspire.

A reminder and motivation to those in attendance of the great cause at hand was a set up for the “heroes,” the community children being fundraised for, that had their photos and names displayed. The children, rightfully called the heroes of the fundraising event, shared their “miracle moments” on stage or through videos projected on the large screen by those who could not make it to the event.

After a day of being encouraged to not have any caffeine-intake and never stop dancing and standing for the cause, the Warriors For The Kids got on stage to give out the numerous raffle prizes and celebrate the years’ worth of preparing for WarriorThon.

“This event provides me with so much hope,” Josephine Osowski said, the Fundraiser Chair for WFTK and elementary and early childhood major at Winona State.