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A BuckeyeThon 20 for 20

November 13, 2020

The people, the milestones and the facts behind one of the largest student-run philanthropy organizations in the nation.

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In its two decades of existence, BuckeyeThon has grown and evolved exponentially. With “For The Kids” at the core of all the program does, the group promotes teamwork, fosters a giving spirit and inspires positive change in the world. All while helping to fight to end pediatric cancer and blood disorders. 

To honor 20 years as a thriving student organization at Ohio State, these 20 facts help to exemplify BuckeyeThon’s integrity, dedication and compassion.

  1. For starters, BuckeyeThon is a student organization within the Office of Student Life that creates awareness and raises funds for children with cancer and blood disorders. BuckeyeThon focuses on children being treated in the Hematology, Oncology, Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, ranked fourth nationally in treating pediatric cancer.
  2. It also is the largest student-run philanthropy organization in Ohio and is recognized by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals — of which Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a partner — as one of the largest dance marathons in the nation.
  3. In honor of its 20th anniversary, BuckeyeThon’s goal this year is to raise $2 million.
  4. In 2019, BuckeyeThon reached its highest fundraising mark with more than $1.7 million.
  5. In early October, BuckeyeThon’s 3,815 registered team members raised over $233,000 in a single day of fundraising during its Day of Miracles.

Children walk through cheering students at a Buckeyethon event

The BuckeyeThon dance marathon in February of 2020 raised more than $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research.

Past BuckeyeThons have featured Ohio State students raising money through a 24-hour dance marathon at the Ohio Union.
BuckeyeThon was the brainchild of alumna Rosa Ailabouni who launched the university's plans for the event in 1999.
Funds raised through BuckeyeThon benefit pediatric cancer patients being treated at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
  1. BuckeyeThon has a Youth Philanthropy Program that engages over 12 Columbus-area high schools. These Youth Philanthropy programs have set a $200,000 goal this year.
  2. BuckeyeThon’s fundraising total is revealed at its annual dance marathon, a celebration of the organization’s efforts.
  3. In recent years, the 24-hour dance marathon was held in early February. This year, it will be a 12-hour virtual event on Nov. 21 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and livestreamed on the BuckeyeThon website.
  4. BuckeyeThon has opened its registration to anyone who would like to participate in the virtual dance marathon.
  5. As part of the marathon, BuckeyeThon will partner with Ohio State’s Esports community for its first Virtual Day of Play, in which gamers compete and raise money.

Students fold materials in preparation for a Buckeyethon event

BuckeyeThon has adjusted to COVID-19 and the student group is transitioning its dance marathon to a virtual event that starts on Nov. 21.

Members of Buckeyethon prepare scarves for participants in the 2020 event.
BuckeyeThon president Ishan Patel (right) has worked with his team to adjust the event to accommodate Ohio State's COVID-19 protocols.
This year's BuckeyeThon dance marathon will be entirely virtual, with students participating from around the country.
  1. Rosa Ailabouni ’01 founded BuckeyeThon in 1999. “The idea came from wanting to bring the Ohio State community together, and also wanting to bring Ohio State together with the Columbus community,” Ailabouni said. “My challenge was how do you bring together students, faculty and staff for one big goal?”
  2. BuckeyeThon’s first dance marathon was Feb. 2, 2002, when 108 dancers and 206 volunteers danced for 26 hours. The organization raised $32,474 that year.
  3. Since then, BuckeyeThon has donated more than $11.5 million to Nationwide Children's Hospital.
  4. BuckeyeThon works with 20 families, or Champion Kids, throughout the year. This year’s BuckeyeThon kids are Corbin, Ben, Carter, Pax, Avalon, Dominic, Regan, Reid, Sean, Hailey, Samuel, Elijah, Piper, Brady, Kinley, Hayden and Josh.
  5. Last year, Kinley — who received a bone marrow transplant while in treatment — attended the wedding of her bone marrow donor. It was the first time they had met, and both families said it was a special moment, garnering media attention for the occasion.

Students film a virtual Buckeyethon event

This year's BuckeyeThon is entirely virtual and will feature a number of special segments, including a version of the game show Family Feud.

Ohio State students are already preparing for the Nov. 21 virtual BuckeyeThon.
Included in this year's BuckeyeThon are a number of pre-taped video segments, including a version of the popular gameshow Family Feud.
Ohio State students are aiming to raise $2 million as part of this year's BuckeyeThon.
  1. Several Champion Kids have reached the five-year milestone of being cancer free. Most recently, Corbin and Pax celebrated the amazing accomplishment.
  2. BuckeyeThon also has four angel families — families whose child passed away to pediatric cancer, and their parents and siblings honor their memory through events. Those highlighted this year are the Oliphant, Varughese, Bish and Reeves families.
  3. BuckeyeThon’s support of hematology research and treatments this year extends to Champion Kids Samuel and Elijah, who are brothers coping with hemophilia.
  4. The event is involved in research by funding two research fellowships at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and various research projects, including ones regarding genomics research.
  5. The organization also donates to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s psychosocial department to help fund mental health services.

BONUS: Want to donate or find out the top fundraisers this year? You can find the answers here.