raiseRED planting seeds to grow UofL’s Community of Care

The 2021 raiseRED reveal celebration was held outdoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with some students celebrating from their cars.

By Janet Cappiello

The raiseRED student fundraising organization that benefits seriously ill children and their families is already the University of Louisville’s largest student-run philanthropic organization, a bright example of our Cardinal principle that we are a Community of Care.

Organizers are also working to plant seeds to spread that principle throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana. 

The raiseRED youth philanthropy program encourages local high schools to hold fundraisers in support of raiseRED, inspiring younger students to get involved and, hopefully, continue that involvement in their college careers.

Since 2017, these fundraisers have added more than $189,000 to the $3 million total raiseRED has tallied to support the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Hematology and Oncology. 

“The Youth Philanthropy Program of raiseRED gives younger students a chance to become leaders in their own setting and find something they are passionate about,” said Megan Bryant, a senior elementary education major who is heading the program this year. “Seeing their passion for helping people affected by pediatric cancer and blood diseases is inspiring. They are not putting themselves first, and they are making sure they put all of their energy into helping others.”

raiseRED volunteers reach out to area schools (often their alma maters) every year to encourage partnerships. This year for the first time, raiseRED is getting some help from Children’s Miracle Network, which has a team of dance marathon experts that offer advice and support. 

For 2022, four area high schools are planning their own mini dance marathons to support raiseRED. They are Louisville Male (raiseGOLD), Ballard (Dance Maroon), North Oldham (raiseTEAL) and Charlestown Senior, Indiana (pirateTHON). 

pirateTHON, a first for Charlestown Senior High School, shows the power of creating a youth service pipeline: Its creators are sisters Demaria (a senior) and Anneiah (a sophomore) King, whose older sister, DeAsia King, is a raiseRED veteran and this year’s executive director.

“Throughout my time with raiseRED, Demaria and Anneiah have learned a lot about our organization and have even attended various events we have put on,” said DeAsia King, a senior neuroscience major. “My participation and their interest in the cause motivated them to create their own program.”

Demaria and Anneiah King hope this will be the first of many raiseRED marathons at their school.

“When I leave, I want them to continue running pirateTHON even better than this year,” Demaria King said. 

Anneiah King added: “Since Charlestown is such a small town, we can bring our community together as a whole. It’s phenomenal to see all of my fellow students come together and help out with pirateTHON. It will be really nice to continue pirateTHON for the rest of my high school career and hope that it continues when I graduate.”

The 18-hour raiseRED dance marathon marks the culmination of fundraising events held throughout the year, and was last held in person in 2020, when it inadvertently landed in UofL’s pandemic history books as one of the final in-person events of the 2019-2020 academic year.

The 2021 version was an enthusiastic virtual affair that, despite its limitations, still raised more than $507,000. This year, the marathon returns to an in-person, indoor experience that begins Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. and ends Feb. 26 at noon in the Student Activities Center ballroom. Covid-19 protocols will be observed. About 1,000 UofL students participate each year.

The raiseRED website, www.raisered.org, is filled with inspiring stories from grateful patients and their families. To donate, click here

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