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Red River Dance Off

How Two Rival Schools Came Together to Make BIG Miracles

  1. Where It All Began: DMLC 2017

At DMLC in July, a few of our Texas THON Leadership team members met with team members from Soonerthon. In the past, Texas THON and Soonerthon had a challenge week but it had been focused on increasing registration;  this year we decided a fundraising challenge was our next big step. We shared contact information and set forth a plan to contact each other as soon as we got back to our respective campuses.

  1. Communication is key.

Early planning was essential to making this competition a success. We started off with a small call between Texas THON Management members and Soonerthon Management members right before school began. This gave us the foundation of the plan: when the challenge was going to happen, what the challenge was, and who would be involved. About a month out from the start date, we began a process of bi-weekly calls between each Dance Marathon’s hospital advisor, DM Manager, and “Red River Dance Off” team. On these calls, we discussed the more specific details of the competition: such as how each school would communicate throughout the week, who would create the different graphics, and how we would interact on social media.

  1. The name. #RedRiverDanceOff

The name Red River Dance Off actually came from a registration competition between Texas THON and Soonerthon two years prior. We chose the name because it referenced our football rivalry, the Red River Showdown, while differentiating us from football and changing it to a Dance Off. We really wanted to capitalize on our rivalry For The Kids, which is why we made the competition the week of the Red River Showdown. By doing so, we were able to bring an increased amount of donations to each team.

  1. Empowering your Miracle Makers.

While each school’s Leadership team had known about this competition for a while, they would not have been able to raise almost 40K in just four days without their Miracle Makers (dancers). Each school had their own way of communicating with Miracle Makers and making sure they were equipped for the challenge. For Texas THON Miracle Makers, we made a fundraising toolkit specifically for this challenge; which included publicity t-shirt pre-orders, specialized team instagram graphics, sample social media posts, and fundraising tips. Soonerthon sold tickets for their 5K run, hosted penny wars between teams, and raffled off tickets to the Red River Showdown game. Each team also utilized social media by posting hype videos, fundraising updates, and Miracle Kid bios. With these tools and more, both teams were able to engage Miracle Makers and get them excited about beating the other team in raising miracles.

  1. It’s all about the kids.

At the end of the day, it’s not about winning. It’s about the kids. It was inspiring to see two rival schools put aside their differences for one common goal. In order to keep the competition focused on cause connection, each school posted about one of their Miracle Kids every day during the challenge to share a bit about them and remind everyone what this was all about. Each school also featured their Miracle Kids in their hype videos in order to connect the competition back to the cause. Even though our schools are rivals in The Big 12 Conference, we both know that working together in the CMNH Conference is what wins us, and the kids, BIG miracles.


Written by Erika Ong and Mary Holguin (University of Texas, Austin)