CowboyThon is celebrating Super Stan Day! This day of fundraising is dedicated to our newest miracle child and cancer survivor, Stan. Stan's mother Lindsey tells his story to recovery.
Finals are over, and all of the Cowboys have gone home for the holidays. The next five weeks should consist of family time and hopefully plenty of rest. However, CowboyThon is not done with 2016. There are still a few weeks left, which means that there is still plenty of work to be done FOR THE KIDS!
We believe that our miracle children deserve to be fought for even when the cowboy family is scattered. We know that just because we are not in Stillwater, does not mean that there are not still kids fighting for their lives every day. So, whether we are in Oklahoma, in another state, or in another country, we will continue to fight.
Over the next two weeks, we will be celebrating the 12 Days of CowboyThon. The next twelve days will consist of end-of-the-year fundraising, general awareness about what we do at CowboyThon and much more. Please, continue to follow CowboyThon over the next few weeks, share our posts and participate in our challenges. Childhood illness is not taking a break, and neither are we. From the CowboyThon family to yours: Have a Merry Christmas, and continue to do work For The Kids!
Last week the CowboyThon family gained a few members, as we welcomed a new Miracle Child and his family to our team. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, an Oklahoma State University lecture hall full of CowboyThon Leadership and Big Committee members was privileged with the introduction of Miracle Child, Graham.
Graham was born on Nov. 25, 2014 with a condition that required him to have 4 surgeries, month-long intubation, 13 additional days of oxygen, and multiple feeding tubes within the first 109 days of his life. Graham was able to receive all of this and more at our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Additionally, he and his family have never had to leave the state for the treatment that Graham requires. Since Graham’s initial stay, he has been admitted to the Children’s Hospital four more times and required 4 more surgeries. He will turn two this month.
“I will forever champion everything Children’s did for my family. I want to make sure every mom just like me has the ability to have hope for their child by receiving the same treatment as we did,” said Graham’s mom, Dayle.
When speaking to the CowboyThon family, Dayle only had positive things to say about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the staff and the services provided by the Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
“We are so excited to be a part of CowboyThon because we live in Stillwater and are huge OSU fans! We are both alum, as well. We want to share the experience that we had, going from a ordinary family and all of a sudden in the middle of an extraordinary journey. Also, to create awareness and support of the Children's Hospital,” Dayle said.
CowboyThon is beyond ecstatic to welcome this loving family into our own and cannot wait to walk with them through their continuing journey. You can help children like Graham by donating at CowboyThon.org.
As we near America’s Greatest Homecoming at Oklahoma State University, we are inspired to envision a Cowboy’s dream. For many, A Cowboy’s Dream represents post-grad success or a winning football season. For some, however, the only dream to be dreamt is one of a long, healthy life lived.
Through triumph and tragedy, the Cowboy family stands strong. We stand strong because we stand together. Whether in the presence of heartache or happiness, no Cowboy has to stand alone. This is evident in our community’s support for Oklahoma State’s miracle network dance marathon program, CowboyThon.
CowboyThon is the epitome of a Cowboy’s dream. For the last six years, thousands of Oklahoma State Students have joined together with the Cowboy Family to raise over $400,000 for the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Foundation, an affiliate of our local Children’s Hospital. Children in all 77 Oklahoma counties benefit from the work of CowboyThon and we have seen this program touch the Stillwater Community first hand. A community that cares for its members is the truest sense of a cowboy’s dream.
This year, you can help make these little Cowboys’ dreams a reality. Between now and Homecoming on October 29th, CowboyThon and Pistol Pete challenge YOU, the Cowboy Family, to raise $5,000 for the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Foundation. We invite you to join us at Homecoming Walkaround and look for us in the parade as we make miracles happen for children all throughout the state of Oklahoma.
You can donate directly to Pete’s personal fundraising page by visiting cowboython.org. Every dollar raised stays right here in Oklahoma, and may just benefit a child you know. So during America’s Greatest Homecoming, keep the Cowboy dream alive and show the world what true community looks like.
Red, the fifth and final color in the Olympic symbol, is thought to represent many different emotions. Red is the color of everything from love to anger. Red can mean power, and it can also mean destruction. Perhaps, though, the most important feeling to attribute to this fiery color is passion.
In the heart of every Olympian is a passionate desire to achieve more than they ever have. Without passion they would not be Olympians. No Olympian would put in the time and effort necessary to be successful if they did not truly have a passion for their sport. Likewise, without passion we would not be CowboyThon. In the heart of every director, every committee member, and every dancer is a passion to serve the children of Oklahoma. For everyone involved, CowboyThon is far more than an organization. It is more than philanthropy. It is a passion. Just as a single red flame can become a wildfire, CowboyThon takes the flame in each of us and creates a passionate force that cannot easily be extinguished. It is a passion that never fades and is almost always growing.
Both literally and figuratively, red is inside of all of us. If you do not have a little red inside of you, than you are not living. Red can be sadness. It can be anger, or it can be love. But in any case red is passion, and at CowboyThon passion is not something we lack.
MEET OUR CHAMPIONS!
It is often said that the grass is greener where you water it. Not only is it greener, but it is also richer and more full of life. Grass that is not cared for withers and dies, but grass that is maintained and manicured is full of growth and is always making progress.
Progress is something that we are constantly striving to achieve at CowboyThon, and what better color to represent progress than the color of the fourth Olympic ring. Abundant in nature, green is the color of growth and life. It represents renewal and health. It is ever present and constantly advancing. For example, many species of trees can live for hundreds of years, growing everyday and constantly making progress. This is the kind of growth that we want to see in CowboyThon.
At CowboyThon, we have been watering the grass for several years, and we have no intentions of stopping. CowboyThon recognizes the impact that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals make through research, training, care and treatment. Over the past five years, CowboyThon has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to contribute to this progress. This year, our sixth year of contributing to CMNH, CowboyThon aims to make more growth than ever.
More often then not, people use the phrase “going green” with the insinuation that they intend to simply maintain the green that they see around them. This year, we don’t just aim to maintain, but to advance. We are tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and watering the grass. So let’s make this a year of continual progress. Let’s go green FTK.
MEET OUR CHAMPIONS!
Imagine you are standing alone in a completely dark space. There is no light to be seen and you are completely isolated. Surrounded by black, you are full of fear. Now imagine you are in the same situation, but there are people on either side of you holding your hands. Suddenly, the darkness seems more bearable. You are reminded that the night will pass eventually, and even if it doesn’t, someone is there to experience it with you.
Black, the color of the third ring in the Olympic symbol, is often associated with darkness and loneliness. It represents isolation and emptiness. Some children experience more darkness and isolation than any one person should ever have to. There are many adults that don’t experience as much darkness as some of our miracle children do.
CowboyThon aims to make this darkness more tolerable by providing a hand to hold in the night. More than an organization, CowboyThon is a community that stands to surround miracle kids and their families with love and support. Just as an Olympian needs a community of people to provide support during their toughest trials, CowboyThon recognizes our miracle children’s need for community in a totally different kind of trial- a trial that they never asked to be a part of.
So, until the sun rises, until the darkness fades and until the night comes to an end, CowboyThon will keep creating community. It will stand as a night light in the darkest times. It will keep supporting its little Olympians. The night will eventually come to an end, but in the meantime, CowboyThon is going to keep holding hands.
MEET OUR CHAMPIONS!
Yellow wakes me up in the morning. Yellow gets me on the bike every day. Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yellow makes me suffer. Yellow is the reason I am here.” -Tour de France champion and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong
Yellow is the second color represented in the five rings that make up the Olympic symbols. More than that, though, it often represents happiness, energy and optimism. Yellow symbolizes joy, and joy is a crucial part of CowboyThon’s mission. CowboyThon recognizes the importance of joyousness, not only in our miracle children, but also in everyone involved. Christina Jobson, mother of miracle child, Ava, understands the value of finding joy in every situation. “We try to find joy in everything, regardless of the hurdle or battle. Every little progress is still progress. Attitude is everything!” said Mrs. Jobson. The Jobsons are just one of many families that make a conscious effort to choose joy on a daily basis. Not only do they benefit from choosing joy, but their joy is also infectious to those around them.
Yellow is more than an Olympic ring. It is an attitude. Yellow is the look on a child’s face when they are introduced to a crowd of supporters at CowboyThon’s main event. Yellow is choosing optimism even when there is no reason to have it. Yellow is joy. So, if you need to be reminded why CowboyThon continues to serve miracle families in Oklahoma every year, just look for a little yellow.
MEET OUR CHAMPIONS!
MEET OUR SECOND MIRACLE CHILD CHAMPION, JASE! JASE IS AN ENERGETIC 5 YEAR OLD WHO LOVES TO WRESTLE, PLAY BASKETBALL, AND EAT DAIRY FREE MAC AND CHEESE! WHEN WE HAS BORN, JASE EXPERIENCED SEVERE JAUNDICE AND WEIGHT LOSS. AFTER A FEW DAYS, HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH GALACTOSEMIA. THIS MEANS THAT JASE CANNOT METABOLIZE GALACTOSE, WHICH IS THE MAIN SUGAR IN MILK. WITH THE HELP OF HIS DOCTOR, JASE HAS BEEN ABLE TO MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH WITH A LACTOSE-RESTRICTED DIET.
It is fitting that the very first ring in the Olympic symbol is blue. Blue often represents depth and stability, and more often then not, when you see blue, you see a lot of it. Just as much as you can see blue across the sky or in the ocean, you can find the same depth and stability in the support that CowboyThon provides.
CowboyThon is an integral part of a vast series of Dance Marathon events across the country that make it their goal to provide support to children in need annually. In 2015 alone, Dance Marathon events raised more than $27 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and every dollar raised goes directly to each school’s local Miracle Network Hospital. Hundreds of thousands of students uniting to benefit hundreds of hospitals and thousands of children is the epitome of support.
Not only does CowboyThon support CMNH financially, but it also benefits miracle children in countless other ways. The amount of relationships and positive experiences that CowboyThon provides for children is immeasurable. Just as an expansive ocean can’t be measured, there is no way to sum up the magnitude of the hope that children find through programs like Dance Marathon… But even though it can’t be measured, it can always be seen.
For some children, every day is a miracle. CowboyThon aims to create miracles by making every child feel like an Olympian. Just like an ocean, CowboyThon is vast and supportive. CowboyThon runs deep.
Meet Our Champions!
CowboyThon is excited to announce our Leadership Team for this upcoming year! This team is comprised of the Executive Director, Six Vice Presidents, and 19 Committee Directors. We are preparing for a great year ahead for CowboyThon at Oklahoma State University!
CowboyThon Leadership Team
Executive Director: Colton Clark
VP of Administration: Hunter Shedrick
VP of Fundraising: Carrie Hudson
- Individual Fundraising: Sam Dannels
- Local Fundraising: Teryn Moorman and Megan Arms
- Catering: Averie Hinchey
VP of Membership: Zoe Campbell
- Morale: Caileb Booze and Madison Weiser
- Campus Life Relations: Carli Curtis
- Residential Life Relations: Kolton Kardokus
- Greek Life Relations: Dalton Howell
VP of Marketing: Ashleigh Rauner
- Graphic Design: Carter Link
- Public Relations: Mason Congdon
- Alumni/Faculty Relations: Mason Martin and Kaylyn LeFan
- Family Relations: Megan Moffer and Haley Ahrendt
VP of Operations: Kyra Reed
- Special Events: Vishnu Patel and Olivia Hamilton
- Entertainment: Austin Young
VP of Finance Matt Bruner
- Finance Assistant: Peyton Hillery
This is a guest blog from a mother of a miracle child, Bennett, who passed away. Please read and see why we are all FTK and why we will all always #RememberBennett.
I’m Aimee Hanneman. I’m honored to share with you about my Miracle Kid, Bennett.
In August of 2012, when Bennett was just 5 months old, he wasn’t himself one Thursday morning. He was lethargic and didn’t want to eat. A trip to the pediatrician’s office ended with drawing blood. A few hours later the pediatrician called to tell us he was SEVERELY anemic and we needed to get to Children’s Hospital in OKC as soon as we could. They’d be waiting for us in the ER. After a flurry of activity (and the realization that something was REALLY wrong), he immediately received a blood transfusion to stabilize his hemoglobin level, but during his hospital stay, they also discovered his white blood cells and platelets were deficient, too. During our 6-day stay, the doctors ruled out leukemia and some other ‘yucky stuff” but were unable to make a diagnosis.
It didn’t take us long to understand how lucky we were to have even made it to the hospital that day. A normal hemoglobin level (which quite simply is a measure of how much oxygen in in your blood) range is 9-12 micrograms/kilo. For ease, it’s just talked about in numbers from 1-12, with normal being 11.5-14. Bennett’s hemoglobin that day was 1.7. Around the hospital the lowest they’d seen was about 3. He was at risk for cardiac arrest or stroke and we didn’t know it. Thankfully he’d been rather healthy and we hadn’t had to find out that he had very little in his body that could have fought an infection.
On December 19, 2012, after four long months of tests, we finally learned his diagnosis. (How can it be three years ago?) Bennett was fighting an EXTREMELY RARE disease called Pearson(‘s) Syndrome. When I say EXTREMELY RARE, I mean there have been less than 100 diagnosed cases in the WORLD!! He’s the only patient in Oklahoma EVER with this diagnosis and it was a surprise even to his doctors.
Pearson Syndrome is a rare multisystem disorder caused by mitochondrial deletions/mutations in cells throughout the body. (Mitochondria are small units responsible for energy production – the battery packs, you could say, in the cells throughout the whole body) Mitochondrial disease causes cells to not be able to carry out their function and result in various symptoms/organ difficulty. Two of the most recognizable symptoms in Pearson Syndrome are bone marrow failure and pancreatic insufficiency, which is what he fought the most. Pearson’s is a waiting game to find out what part of the body will fail next.
Most cases of Pearson Syndrome appear to be random occurrences instead of an inherited condition and Bennett’s is just that. Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for Pearson Syndrome other than to support the symptoms, which is exactly what we did from day one. Bennett’s greatest need to survive was to manage the bone marrow failure. Until a year ago, (and I’ll tell you more about that in a minute), he was dependent on red blood transfusions (about every two weeks) to treat his anemia. For over two years, he received a daily shot to stimulate white cell production and he needed platelet transfusions at various points. In all, Bennett needed over 30 liters of blood products!
For Pearson kiddos who’ve lived past the age of 2, their bone marrow has recovered on its own, eliminating the need for transfusions. We thought that was happening for Bennett in the spring of 2014, but by June, things were starting to drift the other direction again. The bone marrow failure of Pearson Syndrome created an environment for other yucky cells to set up shop. In August of 2014 we learned Bennett had developed Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a precursor to leukemia, as well as monosomy 7. Long story short, the duplication of these unwelcome cells was taking up space in his bone marrow and not allowing his body to make the good kinds of cells he needed. Our best chance for survival was a bone marrow transplant. (Without it, doctors anticipated the cancerous cells would take over his body in a matter of months.)
An anonymous donor was a REALLY GREAT match for him and we were set for transplant mid-October. Much to our dismay, he acquired a nasty fungal infection in his left foot which doctors told us a healthy person, not to mention an immune-compromised kiddo like Bennett, would have had difficulty clearing with medication. We attempted it for nearly six weeks to no avail. To rid his body of infection and get him to transplant, we made the difficult decision to amputate his left foot. The amputation site healed beautifully and finally, on December 11, 2014, he received the gift of new life in the form of healthy bone marrow from the original donor who’d waited for him to be well enough to proceed.
Our hearts wrenched at every turn as we worked with his medical team to make decisions for his care. It was a catch-22 knowing that all of the medications – antibiotics, antifungals, chemo, immunosuppressants, steroids, anti-rejection – made his body work overtime! As he battled against that infection and as his body worked to accept the new marrow, every day was a juggling act by the doctors to keep his electrolytes in balance and keep him stable! Even the smallest fluctuations had the potential to send his body into a state of metabolic crisis. We hoped and prayed for the best but our hearts and minds questioned what the long-term effect would be on his vital organs like his kidneys and his heart.
Bennett was in the hospital for 108 days from the beginning of October to mid-January of this year. His bone marrow transplant had gone better than anyone expected! Now we needed to wait and see. The next few months were crucial. He ended up being in and out of the hospital as his body worked hard to accept that new marrow. The anti-rejection meds and steroids kept his system suppressed as he fought graft vs. host disease and other things. At the end of March, dehydration from a stomach bug turned into a three-week stay to get his electrolytes back to (his) normal. (This was supposed to be a one-night stay for some fluids!)
A fever and cold symptoms sent us back to the hospital at the end of May. I didn’t get my hopes us for a quick discharge but in no way were we prepared for what was coming. We spent six days fighting that, went home for a day and returned to the hospital. The wheezing in his lungs had worsened and pneumonia was apparent. A day later he was transferred to PICU when his body reached a point of metabolic crisis.
On June 17, 2015, after twelve days on life support, Bennett ended his fight. I can’t say he lost his fight because he won so many battles! Bennett fought everything thrown at him like a champion!! Through it all, he displayed the brightest smile you’ve ever seen, along with resilience, perseverance, bravery, determination, stubbornness, and grace. He loved and was loved like crazy!
Our family will forever be grateful for the incredible team of doctors and nurses at The Children’s Hospital and the support of Children’s Hospital Foundation. Since we live in Oklahoma City, we’ve had only a short drive across town for all of his care! We had everything we needed to help Bennett live life to the fullest despite battling such a rare disease.
As an OSU alum, I am especially thrilled about the efforts of Cowboython that will significantly impact children all across Oklahoma. Personally, I can’t help but think how amazing it would be for The Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Foundation to play a role in finding a cure for rare mitochondrial disease like Pearson Syndrome! FTK!
Our family is looking forward to joining you on February 13th! See you then! Until then…
Love like crazy.
Blog post from Carrie Hudson, Director of Family Relations on the Leadership Team
Three Little Letters
Thanks, Leukemia, for turning my life upside down because if it were right side up, I wouldn’t have found my three favorite letters.
To me, FTK means opportunity. It means love, dedication, and hard work. It means LIFE! My journey to FTK may be a little bit of a unique one. At the age of 9, on September 24, 2004, I was admitted into the Hematology Oncology Clinic of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Two days later, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I then underwent 26 months of oral chemotherapy, intravenous chemotherapy, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations, and hair loss, in addition to changes in appetite, physical appearance, energy levels, and more. But then at the end of those 26 months, I was able to say, “I kicked cancer’s butt! I am cancer free!”
Throughout those 26 months and in the years to follow, I became involved with wonderful organizations such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Just Like You Films Inc., and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In high school, I began volunteering at my hospital as a Child Life Volunteer. My volunteer experience at the hospital and with the three phenomenal organizations helped me to find my passion. I am now at Oklahoma State University, studying to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. Child Life Specialists are the child development experts in a hospital. They believe that, even when children are in the hospital, play should remain an important and normal part of their lives. Just because a child has an IV pole accompanying them to the playroom, doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently than their friends. As a freshman at Oklahoma State in 2013, I stumbled upon this thing called “Dance Marathon.” “For the Kids” was their tag line, and I was intrigued.
Child Life is what FTK means to me. Because of those three impactful letters, CowboyThon is able to raise approximately $278,000 over the last four years, with goals to raise $180,000 in during the 2015-2016 school year. Because of those three letters we love to chant, CowboyThon has been able to help the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network fund numerous research projects to help children right here in the state of Oklahoma. Because of those three little letters we frequently hash tag, we are able to make miracles.
FTK strives to make sure our Miracle Children know they are loved. We want them to know that when they are a part of the CowboyThon family, the IV connections don’t matter, the beeping of the monitors fades away, and he or she is given the opportunity to be a Cowboy.
We are so thankful for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals because they brought us Carrie. Without her, we wouldn't have such a wonderful Family Relations Director and friend. We are all #FTKtheCarrieWay
Blog post from Colton Clark, Director of Individual Fundraising on the Leadership Team.
On Saturday, October 24th, tragedy struck the Stillwater Community during the annual Homecoming Parade. In a day filled with darkness and grief, my eyes were opened as I read a Facebook post from the The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center informing the state that victims of the tragedy were being treated at their hospital in Oklahoma City.
On this most awful day in the Stillwater Community some of the victims of this tragedy were taken to the Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, the hospital supported by Oklahoma State students for the last 5 years through CowboyThon (formerly known as Dance Marathon). Throughout the course of the last 5 years, OSU students have raised over $250,000 to allow families in the state of Oklahoma to receive the highest quality medical care without having to leave the state. On that Saturday morning, victims of this tragedy were able to be treated in Oklahoma in a hospital supported by their Oklahoma State family.
The resilience of the Cowboy Family and the strength of the community is awe inspiring. As we continue to lift up in prayer the families of those lost and those injured on that day, it is my hope that students of Oklahoma State take hold of the opportunities available to them to support these families through the CowboyThon organization on our campus. You may be looking for a way to serve these families, but have not yet found an outlet to assist those affected. CowboyThon is an outlet that connects our university directly to the impact that Children's Hospital has made on these families and will continue to make after this tragedy. I encourage you to learn more about our organization by heading to CowboyThon.org and reading more of our mission to do all that we do For The Kids of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Children's Hospital.
Update: The four children who were treated at the Miracle Network Hospital in OKC after the tragedy have been released and are doing great!
CowboyThon is FTK (for the kids) and we would love to have you be FTK with us! Here are some reasons why we love being FTK!
1. CowboyThon is Oklahoma State’s biggest philanthropy. We raise money for Children’s Hospital Foundation, an affiliate of our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Oklahoma City. To read more about Children’s Miracle Network, visit www.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org
2. Children’s Miracle Network is an incredible cause. The money we raise allows the hospital to use it where it’s needed the most. These donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.
3. CowboyThon allows all of OSU to come together as a family to support one cause and stand for the kids that can’t. What better way to join a movement and join the Cowboy family?
4. CowboyThon is a yearlong philanthropy and the event is a night you will never forget. Standing 12 hours for the kids that can’t and having the time of your life while doing so can be one of your most memorable Cowboy experiences.
5. There are multiple ways to be involved with CowboyThon! You can sign up as a participant, called a “dancer”, or apply to be on the exec committees! For more information and to register today, visit www.CowboyThon.org/students-1/
Join our movement as we #FTKtheCowboyWay!