When Jason Brotkin ’18 found himself at the TribeTHON table of William & Mary’s Student Activities Fair in fall semester of his freshman year, he was naively unaware of the extraordinary influence the 10-hour dance marathon fundraising organization would have on his own life, and the lives of others. After four years of active participation and leadership at TribeTHON, Brotkin’s continued drive to serve his community and distinct willingness to develop new and creative traditions as Executive Director earned him national recognition: the 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award.
Offered to 20 students of the thousands of graduating seniors at approximately 300 colleges and universities who participate in the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, this competitive award recognizes those student-participants whose commitment to service has made an exceptional impact on their campus and local community.
TribeTHON, William & Mary’s chapter of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, partners with a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a year-long fundraising campaign to help mitigate the financial challenges of running a children’s hospital.
“Our yearlong efforts to raise funds and awareness cultivate in a 10-hour dance marathon that supports our active fight against pediatric illness,” Brotkin said.
With the support of local businesses, generous donors and committed William & Mary students, the TribeTHON program has developed into one of the largest service organizations at the university. This year, the organization raised a record-breaking $55,024.76 to support its local Miracle Network Children’s Hospital. According to Brotkin, the secret to the organization’s success is simple: It’s the people.
“With other campus organizations, you can plainly see all of the similarities that bind the members together – whether it’s their interests, hobbies, skills or personalities,” he said. “TribeTHON is unique in that it brings students together from all different walks of campus life. It channels the passions of William & Mary’s kindest, friendliest, most compassionate students and directs it towards this important cause.”
As executive director of the organization, Brotkin presented a distinct creativity in his efforts to establish new club traditions and fundraising strategies. Instituting new club events such as the TribeTHON Kickoff, the Dare-a-THON and Miracle March Madness, Brotkin motivated his fellow fundraisers to take risks and challenge personal fundraising limits. Brotkin attributed much of TribeTHON’s progress during this academic year to his executive team, whom he described as willing and enthusiastic to implement these new ideas.
“We had these big picture ideas – if anyone outside of the team heard them, they’d probably think they were crazy,” he said. “Our exec team was a very tight-knit group this year, which allowed us to do a lot of the things that we set out to do.”
Brotkin described the receipt of 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award as “extremely humbling.”
“It’s such an honor. This award was above and beyond anything I could have expected. It was amazing and heartwarming,” he said.
Brotkin emphasized that TribeTHON has not only offered an avenue for him to serve his community, it has also served as a space for him to grow and learn. The leadership experience, community connections and goal-orientation fostered by the organization have been invaluable, he explained.
More than anything, however, TribeTHON has allowed Brotkin to understand the value of service in his own life.
“Through TribeTHON, I’ve learned that I always want part of my life to be committed to service. I want to surround myself with smart, kind, friendly and compassionate people who are looking to create positive change,” he said.
Brotkin said that TribeTHON has motivated him to incorporate a commitment to service in his future, no matter the form.
“I’d like to ensure that service always stays in my life,” he said. “In college, it took the form of TribeTHON. I’m open to whatever it may be down the road.”