Photo courtesy of Kristin Oliphant Forshey
Living the legacy
As BuckeyeThon celebrates two decades as a spectacular student-led philanthropy, it is natural — and impressive — to measure success by the more than $12 million raised to fight pediatric cancer and assist affected families. But with the annual dance marathon coming up Nov. 6–7, 2021, these Ohio State alumni also demonstrate how involvement in BuckeyeThon creates a ripple effect within and far beyond the organization.
Taylor Schwein ’21
My BuckeyeThon experience led me to specialize in pediatrics and psychiatry for my nursing career. Spending time with our BuckeyeThon kids showed me how inspiring and resilient they are, and that they deserve to have the best health care possible to lead healthy, long lives. Seeing the mental health side effects they had as a result of their physical illnesses and treatments also reminded me how important it is to support them and help them learn mental resilience from a young age.
BuckeyeThon was the absolute best part of my Ohio State experience. I met all of my college best friends through BuckeyeThon, established professional relationships with mentors that will last a lifetime, had once-in-a-lifetime experiences with leaders at Ohio State and large corporations, and ignited my lifelong passion to do everything I can for BuckeyeThon’s kids.
Zach Horner ’14
BuckeyeThon shaped who I am today, and the project management skills I learned help drive me in my job. I made friends who seem like family now. My favorite BuckeyeThon memory? My senior year, I was able to raise the final reveal number, disclosing the full amount we raised that year. Seeing thousands of Buckeyes staring up at you and screaming when that number was revealed — I get chills thinking about it.
Juliana Discher ’20
I carry on my passion for BuckeyeThon through my nonprofit work. It is so important and impactful to give back, both with your time and money. A life led by service is so much richer and more fulfilling.
My favorite memory is cutting and donating 12 inches of my hair at the dance marathon. I had been growing my hair out all through high school and was nervous about the chop. But it was such a good feeling to see the kids’ excited faces.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Rodríguez
Daniel Rodríguez ’17
My experience with BuckeyeThon exposed me to the power of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and all the inspiring children whose treatment we support. I now serve as co-chair of sponsorships for the Young Professionals Council of Nationwide Children’s, allowing me to continue to foster a connection to the hospital in a meaningful way.
BuckeyeThon also helped expose me to the collective power of student philanthropy and creating a movement. As a result of my experience with this and other student philanthropy efforts, paying forward is now one of my top priorities and something that brings me a great sense of purpose.
Victoria Piper ’20
I’ve been able to keep living my mission to improve health and compassion in the world by working at Epic Systems. Through BuckeyeThon, I honored kids fighting pediatric cancer, and now I get to keep supporting them by doing work that saves lives.
BuckeyeThon enriched my Ohio State experience by showing me a depth of passion and spirit unmatched by even the best game day in the ’Shoe. It gave me hope and strengthened my ties to Ohio State and the Columbus community.
Joey Dillon ’14
BuckeyeThon is one of the greatest memories of my entire collegiate journey. I truly got to be a part of something bigger than myself and help positively impact kids who deserve to grow up and change the world. I think the biggest thing it showed me is how much of a family Buckeyes are.
In my role with Wexner Medical Center, where we have The James Cancer Hospital and partner with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, it is extremely rewarding to see the direct impact BuckeyeThon has on the kids and their families.
These kids make us feel like dancing
As a new group of student leaders puts the finishing touches on the 2021 BuckeyeThon event, meet some of those taking part and alumni so deeply inspired by their own involvement that they’ve pursued lives of service and found countless ways to give for the joy of it.
Lexi Hitchens ’19
The BuckeyeThon dance marathon and fundraising leading up to it were a large part of my life as a student. It also opened my eyes to all the amazing cancer-stopping work that is being done all around Columbus.
Like many others, I have known many family and friends who have been impacted by cancer, which really drew me to BuckeyeThon. It pushed me to become team captain for the Spirit Program’s BuckeyeThon team, and I spend a lot of time and effort recruiting student-athletes from the cheer, dance and mascot programs to participate and raise funds.
Right before my senior year, my boyfriend (and now husband), Jeremy, was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma. That experience changed my whole perspective on cancer. I am so grateful I already had participated in BuckeyeThon for three years, because it was my outlet and major fundraising effort for my senior year.
Jeremy and I do everything we can to promote Pelotonia and help raise money for cancer research. For the past two years, I have been honored to be chosen as a cheerleader and performer on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. I never would have heard of these programs if it weren’t for my husband’s experience with cancer and the amazing exposure BuckeyeThon provides.
Photo courtesy of Elissa Kuharich
Elissa Kuharich ’17
Through my role in Student Life, I have the pleasure of working with the amazing students and staff who breathe Buckeye spirit into the dance marathon. I pursued a career in higher education, in part, because of my experiences with BuckeyeThon, which engendered my confidence in the power of Ohio State students to create real change in the world.
BuckeyeThon’s cause is pediatric cancer, but the students involved also are passionate about education, social justice, food insecurity, wellness — the list could go on forever. BuckeyeThon gives them the tools to champion these causes and give back to their communities throughout their lives.
I wanted to work in student affairs because it gave me a chance to support students’ personal and professional development. In my own time as a student, I found support in Ohio State staff and alumni who cared about my well-being, shared opportunities and challenged me to identify and pursue my own version of success. I try to give students that same consideration and support.
BuckeyeThon touched almost every aspect of my Ohio State experience. In some ways, it was like my gateway to all other student organizations and experiences. It also was an important supplement to my academic experiences because it gave me a real-world environment to apply things that I was learning in the classroom: strategic planning, communication, conflict management, budgeting and more. I got to test things out and take risks, knowing that my decisions had real impact, good and bad, but also that I had the support of my peers and Student Life staff if I made a mistake.
The dance marathon is a kind of homecoming for BuckeyeThon alumni. We come back to see old friends and support current students. As a student, it was so special because I got to see friends who had already graduated. I remember feeling such intense gratitude for them — for their friendship and the work they had done to set me and my peers up for success. They stayed connected, served as mentors and continued to give to the organization. They were incredible role models for what I’ve come to understand the alumni experience to be.
Garren Cabral ’10, ’12 MLHR
I was very involved during my time at Ohio State, and BuckeyeThon was my favorite student organization. Most of the things I participated in were for the benefit of the student population; BuckeyeThon was not only a student organization, but you could tangibly see how you were giving back to the community outside the university.
It really helped instill in me the value of trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. These days, I volunteer for the Greater Hollywood Food Coalition, which serves meals every day to homeless people near Hollywood, and am a part of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the League of Women Voters.
I have many great memories, but I think my team’s success my last year as a morale captain, during my first year of grad school, means the most because it also was the first year BuckeyeThon doubled its fundraising.
Kristen Reymann ’15
BuckeyeThon was probably my favorite experience at Ohio State. The energy from a dance marathon weekend is something I don’t think I’ll ever experience again. It was so special to come together as a Buckeye community to do really important work, which also was fun.
My involvement gave me the foundational skills for my professional career, which involves fundraising for causes I am passionate about, specifically Ohio State alumni, students and animals. Buckeyethon was my first real look into peer-to-peer fundraising. It sparked a passion for working with an organization that strives for monumental impact through fundraising.
I invited my parents to see the grand reveal my senior year so they could get a little glimpse of the magic. I was so happy to share that moment with them.