This February, some Temple Owls took a trip to State College to participate in the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world.
Since being founded in 1973, Penn State THON has fundraised over 168-million dollars for pediatric cancer research. THON is a 46-hour dance marathon consisting of nearly 17-thousand state college students and pediatric cancer patients and their families.
It is rare that students from other colleges and universities get to attend THON, but that is just what the members of a nonprofit on Temple’s campus had the opportunity to do. They are the members of A Moment of Magic Foundation. Mary Naughton, the president of Temple’s chapter of A Moment of Magic, reflected on her experience.
“THON is one of the most exciting visits that I’ve been able to go on with A Moment of Magic because it’s such an important cause in the world of pediatric cancer and raising money and awareness.”
Social media coordinator of Temple’s chapter Maria DiPietro also commented on her time at THON.
“My experience at THON was so much fun, it was so cool to be around so many people who have the same mission as we do and to see all the kids and just to get to be a part of that day with them is so special.”
A Moment of Magic Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides children with medical vulnerabilities creative programming, outlets, and support to foster imagination, friendship, and hope through college-student volunteers. They provide a variety of services, their most popular being character visits free of charge.
“A Moment of Magic… allows college students to visit children’s hospitals dressed as princesses, superheroes and other famous characters. We operate on the mission of restoring the magic of believing at a time when a child needs to just be a kid while reminding them to remain brave, strong, and fearless,” said Naughton.
The organization aims to bring the magic of a theme park to a child who may not be able to travel there themselves, due to the medical and financial strains associated with pediatric illnesses.
Much like THON, A Moment of Magic is the largest organization of its kind. The organization has 20 chapters nationwide since being founded at the College of Mount Saint Vincent by Kylee McGrane in 2015. Stephanie Fallon founded Temple University’s chapter in March of 2018. She has since been hired as the Northeast Regional Manager on the National Board. Fallon explained the unique benefits of the organization’s work.
“…While a child stays in the hospital, people are in and out of their room constantly to poke or prod them, or ask them to eat or stand up or do things like that. So, our character visits are there to simply provide someone that’s there to play with a child, a familiar face that they see in their popular TV shows or movies… for the benefits of play and just to bring a little magic to their day.”
Temple University’s chapter has visited almost every major hospital in the Philadelphia region. These include St. Christopher’s, Shriner’s, Cooper, and DuPont. The dedication of the organization’s volunteers has also allowed for visits to Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.
“It feels really good that you’re helping them in some sort of way that their doctors and their families may not be able to help them… and it’s really powerful,” said DiPietro.
A Moment of Magic has managed to establish a reputation as an organization that is truly one-of-a-kind in their mission – spreading smiles to those who need it, while wearing crowns and capes.