Last weekend, La Salle University students worked individually to achieve a collective goal.
They made phone calls and sent emails. They traded texts with family and friends. They swarmed social media. The COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented the La Salle students behind Explorathon from gathering in large numbers, but it did not hinder their desire to give back.
The third-annual Explorathon established a single-year record by raising $39,025 in support of The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, the nation’s largest provider of financial aid assistance to families of children with cancer. Event organizers turned to social media and created campaigns specific to La Salle students and faculty and staff as means of achieving their goal and eclipsing last year’s total of nearly $23,000.
“Obviously, COVID-19 has affected all aspects of our daily lives and presented some challenges along the way,” said Kristen Kaisinger, ’21, marketing major in the School of Business, who serves on Explorathon’s executive board. “We had faith in our University community and its dedication to philanthropy, and we knew we could hit our goal.”
In previous years, La Salle students have gathered on campus in the Union Ballroom for a night of dancing and philanthropy. The coronavirus pandemic prevented such revelry—and also reduced the quantity of fundraising prizes they could offer as incentivization.
La Salle’s students used these obstacles as motivation, Kaisinger said. Explorathon adapted to a virtual model that utilized social media to host fundraisers and increase engagement. In one such campaign—Cancer, Don’t You Dare—La Salle students vowed to complete a silly dare of a friend’s or family member’s choosing if they made a contribution to Explorathon.
“We had a lot of fun with this approach and, as the funny videos circulated on social media, we spread even more awareness about Explorathon,” Kaisinger said.
Upon learning they had broken last year’s fundraising mark, Explorathon’s executive board members gathered at the 19th Street and Olney Avenue gate leads to the Hansen Quad for a celebratory photo—physically distanced and in masks, of course.
“Our community stepped up to the challenge amid the pandemic, understanding that childhood cancer has not gone away, and showed incredible support for these families,” Kaisinger said. “The La Salle community truly impressed our Executive Board this year.”
The B+ Foundation honors the life of Andrew McDonough, a Wilmington, Del., who died in 2007 at 14 years old following a battle with leukemia. His family encouraged him to “be positive” throughout his fight with childhood cancer. That motto also matched McDonough’s blood type—B+—and served as inspiration for the foundation. The B+ Foundation pledges 97 cents of every dollar donated to support the fight against childhood cancer, which receives only 4 percent of federal cancer funding.
“Explorathon has embraced this year’s challenges and powered through,” said Allison Worms, program manager of The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. “Their executive board, a group of six students, has continued to get creative and develop fundraisers that are accessible to students even with in-person restrictions in place. They have utilized their social media platforms, such as Instagram, to engage the campus and continue raising money for The B+ Foundation. Thank you to Explorathon and the entire La Salle community for your continued support in the fight against childhood cancer.”
—Christopher A. Vito