A festival on Ohio State’s campus allowed students to reconnect with their inner child while helping raise money for miracle kids, with carnival booths like dunk tanks, put-put and cake walks.
FEST!, a carnival style block party, was hosted by Buckeyethon Thursday at the RPAC plaza to raise funds and awareness for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and miracle kids.
Miracle kids are children who are being treated at the hematology and oncology department of Nationwide. Some of the miracle kids and their families attended FEST!, along with students and Buckeyethon members.
“We just want to raise awareness,” said Matt Mangia, the director of events for Buckeyethon and a third-year in mathematics. “September is childhood cancer awareness month, so for us it’s one of the big focuses for Buckeyethon.”
Buckeyethon is the largest OSU student-run philanthropy organization, holding events throughout the year to raise money for miracle kids and promote awareness for the hospital. Nationwide uses the money for a variety of purposes in the department that benefit children, such as purchasing new chemotherapy chairs and toys.
Buckeyethon is best known for its annual dance marathon, which had more than 3,000 dancers and raised more than $600,000 last year. But Shannon Melampy, an events chair for Buckeyethon and the event lead of FEST!, said they are bigger than that.
“It’s not just a dance marathon, it’s a year long student organization dedicated to raising money for Nationwide Children’s,” Melampy, a fourth-year in strategic communication, said. The organization also hosts other events include a fashion show and a 5k marathon, along with FEST!, she added.
There were more than 20 student organizations, including residence halls, Greek Life and honors groups, who participated in FEST! by hosting carnival booths. Jessica Hornish, a second-year in microbiology, helped run a football toss for her team from Taylor Tower.
“We’re trying to raise $25,000 this year, so we were hoping for a good turnout,” Hornish said. “It’s fun. The atmosphere’s good and I think the kids are having a good time, which in my opinion is the most important thing.”
These groups will be participating in Buckeyethon’s dance marathon in February and used FEST! as an opportunity to bring in money for their dancer funds by charging for tickets to play their carnival games. According to Melampy, helping these student organizations reach their donation goal is important, but it was not the main purpose of the event.
“It’s also to spread awareness about Buckeyethon and Nationwide Children’s, celebrate our fundraising efforts, and just get people excited about Buckeyethon and have a great time,” she said.
In addition to the booths, there were performances from Stylez Dance Group, Brutus and the OSU Dance Team and OSU acappella groups Beauty and the Beats, Dynamic Contrast and Ohio State of Mind. Although students could have been drawn in by the music, games and food, some said they also came for the cause.
“I wanted to support what they’re about,” said Nick Stout, a second-year in anthropology. “I think there was a great turn out.”
Melampy said FEST! was paid for largely by donations from local organizations, such as Best Pi on High, which donated pizza, and Moe’s, which provided chips and salsa.
Buckeyethon was unable to provide the amount of money spent on the event. The amount of money raised and the number of attendants was not known immediately following the event Thursday night, although Mangia said he estimated there to be a more this year than in previous years and said the number of participating student organizations had doubled.
Overall, Mangia thought FEST! accomplished its goal: bringing in donations and introducing new people to Buckeyethon’s cause.
“We’ve seen a lot of new faces tonight, people getting engaged with Buckeyethon,” he said. “It’s a very exciting thing for us.”