Singing for Shriners Reaches New Heights, Hospital Shows Appreciation

In 2012, the University of South Florida chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity had a wonderful idea for a philanthropy event that would provide fundraising for a worthwhile cause. The event would also intend to provide incredible entertainment for all involved. Theta Chi focused on the local community and realized that they could help bring funding and awareness to the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa located on USF’s campus.

Groups, primarily from the Greek community, collaborate in order to select two songs to be performed on the day of the event. This year, the concert had the most registered groups ever, with 10 female performances and 5 male performances competing for the title of champions.

So where does the fundraising come in? That process begins months before the actual day of the event. Each group contributes a registration fee and is expected to make an effort to raise funds from the USF community by encouraging t-shirt and ticket sales. The higher the funds raised, more points are added to the overall performance scores at Singing for Shriners.

When performance day came along, the Theta Chi brothers experienced an unexpected dilemma, as the audience reached maximum capacity in the theatre. Of all the problems that they could have faced this was a welcome one.

Jessica Hill, the Public Relations Specialist at Shriners-Tampa, was front and center for the show, even speaking on behalf of the hospital to the crowd.

“It means so much to have the support”, she said. “Theta Chi, in doing this, is helping to send love to the rescue for so many kids in our area.”

USF student Ally Lindsay has been attending the event for several years and she said that although it’s always nice to have a night full of entertainment, having representatives from the Hospital in attendance, “It'[s] a very important part of the event because you can see these people and see where all the money that everyone’s raising is going to.”

The performances didn’t disappoint and the crowd was enthralled from beginning to end. Perhaps the best part of the evening was finishing off the event with Theta Chi handing over a check to Shriner’s Hospital for $11,000.

Global Medical and Dental Brigades hosts Bubble Soccer Tournament to Fundraise Annual Mission Trip

The Global Medical and Dental Brigades has been a student-run organization at The University of South Florida for many years now. Each year, they plan a fundraising event for their annual medical mission trip and this year was no exception.

In 2015, members were able to raise almost $40,000 and travel Nicaragua together. They hope to reach the same goal this year to get them to Honduras in May.

Although the mission trips last only nine days, their fundraising events begin early in the school year. They collect medical and hygienic supplies to bring with them and they participate in health and safety courses. The members also take part in everyday biomedical science courses to prepare them for assisting at clinics with health officials.

Member and medication chair for the organization, Kristin DeMayo, was proud to play a huge part in planning their first, of hopefully many, Bubble Soccer Tournament.

“It will be a comprehensive public health mission trip while we’re there,” she said.

The trip will include service projects like building sidewalks and outhouses.

At the tournament, teams of four suited up in large, plastic Body Zorb bubble suits to play five minute games against each other.

“[I] bruised some knees but it’s for a great cause,” Sara Galvis, a participant, said.

The Global Medical and Dental Brigades is already thinking of ways to make the tournament bigger and better for next year.

Service dog helps paralyzed student come full circle

For most college students, having a pet of their own would seem like a luxury, but the responsibility of animals mixed with a hectic class schedule could be overwhelming.

For Elizabeth Jernigan, however, her dog Carina was a necessity. Even with aspirations of physician assistant school and a seven-class course load, she can’t imagine doing it without Carina by her side. But perhaps that’s because without Carina, she really couldn’t do it.

After facing unexpected paralysis from the neck down due to her auto-immune disease in 2012, Elizabeth explained that she “needed someone to help [her] with basically everything.” After deciding that a personal aide wasn’t the ideal choice, she applied for a service animal through New Horizons Service Dogs, and waited six long months to get Carina.

Michele Reese has been a puppy raiser for service and guide dogs for several years and has raised over half a dozens dogs. She knows first hand how beneficial and therapeutic these animals can be to the human companions they’re placed with. “They don’t judge,” Reese said. “They love you for who you are, it doesn’t matter if you have a disability.”

Elizabeth has since come full circle in her illness, now able to play and run with Carina whenever she wants. It just goes to show the healing power of these service animals is an amazing thing and now the duo is able to bond on an all-new level, providing equal support for one another everyday.