RebelTHON Raises the Roof for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Twelve-hour, nonstop dance marathon raises more than $30,000 to aid families, research

Photo by Robert Jordan / Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan / Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Each year, more than 20,000 children from north Mississippi are treated at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and University of Mississippi students work hard to make that experience a bit easier.

In just its second year, the RebelTHON 2014 benefit raised $31,454.29, up from just over $25,000 last year. RebelTHON is a 12-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon held in Oxford. This year’s event ran from noon to midnight Feb. 22, providing 12 straight hours of nonstop dancing, fun and games for audiences young and old.

The number of children from Mississippi who are served by Le Bonheur, as well as the fact that no child is ever turned away for treatment, are just two reasons that Wil Yerger, a senior marketing and corporate relations major from Jackson, wanted to be involved again this year.

“Of all of the things I’ve done at Ole Miss, RebelTHON has been the most rewarding,” said Yerger, who served as co-executive director for this year’s event. “There’s no greater feeling than interacting with the families and kids who have been to Le Bonheur. Those kids are stronger than I’ve ever been, and their families are truly grateful for the work we do to help others like them.”

Oxford native Maia Cotelo served as the co-executive director for RebelTHON 2014. Cotelo, a sophomore international studies major with a minor in Portuguese, played a key role in organizing this year’s event.

“After meeting all of the families at the RebelTHON event last year, I knew that I wanted to take a larger role this year and help establish this organization on campus,” Cotelo said. “RebelTHON is a special organization to be involved in because we are so close to the cause for which we are helping raise money and awareness.”

More than 400 students registered for the event, and children and families from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital also attended the dance marathon.

“There is no greater feeling that helping others, and RebelTHON is a fantastic way to give to the community,” Yerger said. “Children are never turned away from Le Bonheur, and the money we raised goes directly to providing services to families who need assistance. It’s a great feeling to know that we, in our own way, are contributing to the futures of these kids and their families.”

The event’s executive committee included 15 students from Mississippi. Besides Yerger, students from the Jackson area who served on the executive committee are:

  • Mary Ball Markow, a senior majoring in English, with minors in biology, chemistry and Spanish, served as director of catering.
  • Brittany Threadgill, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, and Wyeth Silber, a junior hospitality management major, served as co-directors of family relations.
  • Shruti Jaishankar of Madison, a senior majoring in international studies, political science and Spanish, served as director of operations.
  • Sarah Woods, a graduate student studying Spanish, served as director of entertainment.
  • Carter Barnett, a junior majoring in biochemistry and classics with a minor in biology, served as director of technology.

The two students from Long Beach who served on the executive committee are:

  • Katie Cook, a graduate student attending pharmacy school, served as director of fundraising.
  • Reagan Huey, a sophomore accountancy major with a minor in manufacturing and engineering, served as director of finance.

Others Mississippians serving on the executive committee are:

  • Martina Cotello of Oxford, a senior majoring in international studies, accountancy and German, served as co-executive director.
  • Maggie Hall of Greenwood, a sophomore international studies and mathematics major with a German minor, served as director of sponsorships.
  • Ryan Cole of Clinton, a graduate student attending pharmacy school, served as co-director of morale.
  • Ashley Maiolatesi of Ocean Springs, a sophomore psychology and international studies major with a Spanish minor, served as director of dancer relations.
  • Zach Newton of Picayune, a junior international studies and public policy leadership major with a minor in German, served as external director.
  • Allison Slusher of Hattiesburg, a sophomore majoring in international studies and journalism, served as director of community relations

The executive board raises money year-round through various spirit nights and fundraising events. For more information about the event, visit http://www.rebelthon.org.

About Bridget Quinn