Not All Heroes Wear Capes

By Samantha Phillips

Raising money for a good cause can be tough, but one Youngstown State University student found a creative way to fundraise that involved donning a superhero costume for a day.


Jenna Roesch, executive director of Guinathon, has been working with her organization to fundraise for sick and injured children at the Mahoning Valley Akron’s Children Hospital since it was founded last year, but last week she decided to run her own personal campaign.

For her weeklong “Dare to Donate” challenge, she promised to do any dare as long as someone donated to the cause in return. On Friday, in response to a donation, she dressed up as the superhero Spider Man and wore the costume to her classes and two jobs.

About $180 was raised from the “Dare to Donate” challenge, Roesch said. The dares were light-hearted, such as one dare to run through the fountain by Kilcawley.

Dorian Mermer, professor in the department of communication, said Jenna came to class in her costume to give a presentation about Guinathon.

“Jenna, along with the other ladies who are members of Guinathon, are doing fabulous things for both the university and also our local charities,” she said. “It’s just one example of many of our students who really are fantastic scholars but also service-oriented individuals as well.”

Roesch said she got a mixture of weird looks and positive reactions from students, but it didn’t matter to her. Wearing the costume opened up opportunities for her to talk about the campaign.

“It’s a conversation piece because when people ask you about this, it makes it easier to bring up and talk about the fundraiser,” Roesch said.

The money she raised goes to the Akron’s Children Hospital of the Mahoning Valley. Dylan Anders, treasurer of Guinathon, said the hospital’s financial experts choose how the money is allocated to best serve the needs of the hospital.

In the spring, Guinathon will host its first annual dance marathon. Participants will dance for eight hours at the event to raise money for the Akron’s Children Hospital to benefit the sick and injured children. Every dancer sets their own fundraiser goal.

Registration for the Dance Marathon began on Tuesday.

Anders and Roesch emphasized their motto for the dancing marathon — “bad dancing saves lives.” Roesch said it means that dancers at the event shouldn’t feel self-conscious, because they are doing something fun that will benefit children.

“The purpose of Guinathon and the dance marathon is to do everything we can possible for the kids, whether it’s raising funds or awareness for the cause,” Anders said. “You’re putting yourself out there to make a difference in a kid’s life.”

Roesch said the dance marathon can positively impact the lives of people who participate, too. Volunteering for a cause can make someone feel like they make a difference even though they are just one person, she said.

“We don’t want to diminish from the fundraising aspect of it, but it really brings together the campus and community under one umbrella,” she said.

People who register to dance at the dance marathon can earn “miracle points” by doing certain activities, like participating in their Handel’s fundraiser or playing Dance Dance Revolution in Kilcawley.

In exchange, they are rewarded by being given fun experiences with “miracle kids,” 12 kids that represent the local Children’s Miracle Network. These experiences include going out to dinner with the miracle families, meeting the bands and receiving a photo with miracle kids at the dance marathon.

“The miracle families serve as families who represent the hospital to show support for our efforts here at the university,” Anders said. “It gives the dancers at the university a reason to dance, and a reason for people to get involved with fundraisers and help the kids.”

Roesch said the Guinathon members meet the kids and do activities with them that are within their limits, since they are sick or injured.

“We want to get involved in supporting the kids as much as possible,” she said. “We go to their sports events and cheer them on, we go on retreats with them, everything we do is something the kids can do.”

Anders said he hopes to have students participate in the dance marathon because “it allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”