My Story with IlliniThon
When I first joined Illinithon I honestly did not know what to expect. I was a freshman who was a spring pledge at Chi Psi and our president at the time, Nick Havens, told me to sign up for this event that I had heard about, but didn’t actually know anything about. I signed up, but in my head I had no kind of commitment to this event. As the date approached, I debated whether or not I should attend, and mentally my answer actually veered towards no once I realized I had a chemistry exam the next week. Being a college freshman, I stayed up until probably 6 or 7am the night before the big event, not studying, but rather just hanging around with the people on my floor at Oglesby. When I went to sleep, I had no idea what was in store for me when I would wake up. In 2015, Illinithon was an event hosted at the Illini Union that started at noon on a Saturday and ended at midnight. I woke up to a phone call around noon from none other than Nick Havens, who nagged me to get ready and to come to the event. So, I rolled out of bed, took a quick shower, and made the 30 minute walk from the FAR/PAR complex to the Union. I had no idea that Nick Havens’ phone call was one of the most influential events in my college career so far. When I got to the union, there was so much energy that you could legitimately feel it. Everyone was so excited and there was so much going on that it was pretty overwhelming to be honest. I got my team’s shirt and met up with a few other Chi Psi members. We all lined up in that small Union hallway on the second floor and cheered and screamed as each of the Miracle Children ran down the hall, as if they were running onto the field to play in the Super Bowl. From that moment, simply seeing the sheer joy on the faces of each of those kids, I was sold on Illinithon. The event was just such a blast and hanging out with Maddy and Maddux, two of the Miracle Children, was just incredible. There aren’t a lot of adjectives that can accurately describe how the event made me feel, but the one word that stuck in my head the whole time was “magical.” That year we raised about $120,000. A year later, the event was so big that it had to be moved to the ARC. Illinithon 2016 raised about $150,000. This year we’ve already broken that and are charging for $200,000. But what separates Illinithon from other organizations that raise gaudy numbers for charity is that we don’t just help these families pay for procedures, we get to actually touch their lives. We get to see these families every year and catch up on their lives. They become a part of your lives and that is why I dance.