Exposure – 11/07/2020 – TRANSCRIPT FOR MSU Spartython

Connie Rahbany

Disclaimer: The contents of this interview do not reflect the values or represent the values of  WDBM The Impact.

Interview Transcript

Connie Rahbany: Hello, and welcome to Exposure. I’m your host, Connie Rahbany, and today I’m interviewing with Emily Valentine, the president of Spartython, and Sydney Anway the vice-president. Thank you for joining me.

Emily Valentine: Thank you so much for having us. We’re so excited.

Connie Rahbany: And so can I have you introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about you.

Emily Valentine: Yeah. So my name is Emily Valentine and I am the president of Spartython. I am a mechanical engineering senior, so yeah, I’ve been doing this for all four years.

Sydney Anway: My name is Sydney Anway. I’m the vice president of Spartython this year. I am a chemistry major at Michigan state. I’m going into my last year, this year. And like, Emily, I’ve been a part of this club since I’ve been at MSU.

Connie Rahbany:  And what can you tell me about Spartython? What is it?

Emily Valentine: All right. Yeah. So to sum it up very quickly, Spartython is MSU’s dance marathon. So we fundraise all year for our local children’s miracle network hospital, which is Sparrow children’s center. Um, dance marathon is a national organization. So  there are MSU dance marathons everywhere. There are dance marathons for each college. So ours is the one for MSU and yes, so we fundraise for our local children’s miracle network hospital.

Connie Rahbany: And what is the overall goal that the organization is either currently or hoping to achieve in the future?

Sydney Anway: So the overall goal that we have right now with everything going on with COVID is just to try to have everyone that wants to be a part of Spartython focus on the kids. We really want to show that these kids can’t wait and that’s especially children’s miracle network’s motto for this year is that while we’re all waiting to get a vaccine, these kids are still fighting these, their illnesses or whatever they’ve been dealing with. Um, and our goal is just try to just help them as much as we can in these times right now.

Connie Rahbany: And who can get involved with the organization, is it just MSU students for this spartython or how does that work?

Emily Valentine: Yeah. So for all of the years that we have had our annual event, it is MSU students who are able to come along with the families at Sparrow hospital. Obviously everyone is more than welcome to donate, especially to our pages, whether that’s family members, other friends, but yes, our event is open to MSU students and the families at Sparrow hospital.

Connie Rahbany:  So how long have you been involved? You said for a while now and what got you involved?

Sydney Anway: So starting out in, um, high school, I’m actually from Indiana and I heard about, IU’s dance marathon and then coming in as a freshman, I knew I wanted to have some sort of impact where not only could I, I could get to meet the families that I’m impacting. And that’s why Spartython is such an important organization to me just because yes, we’re doing so much, but being able to interact with the kids that we get to help on a daily basis is just so rewarding. And to see how joyful these kids are, no matter what life throws at them, it’s just, it’s a really great thing.

Emily Valentine: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Um, I got involved in a little bit of a different way. I know a lot of people, they know dance marathon through whether their high schools did it and they come to college and want to be involved with their college one. But actually my cousin who was a senior when I was a freshmen, was the president of this dance marathon at MSU. And she was talking to me about what they do and I was instantly just so connected to it. I wanted to be involved immediately. And so I was able to apply to be a committee member my freshman year, but my cousin got me involved with it. And it’s been great ever since.

Connie Rahbany: And how has Spartython benefited you?

Emily Valentine: Honestly, I would say  I have learned so much from Spartython. Not just understanding how much of an impact I’ve been able to make for the kids, but also learning a lot about myself and how dedicated I can be to something that I’m involved with. I’ve also learned a lot about event planning, working in a team. A lot of those things that will really benefit you in the future Spartython has definitely helped me with those things along with showing that I can make an impact in my community, just by doing some of the smallest things and working with the people around me who have the same positive energy about this cause that I do.

Sydney Anway: Yeah, I would have to agree with everything that Emily said. Um, being a part of Spartython on differing positions for the past four years has really given me tools that I can use going forward in life, but not even that just. These kids, the everything that they go through, they still have a smile on their face. So I just even learn a lot from all of the kids that we get to meet, just because they never, never doubt where they’re going and they never have a sad moment or anything like that. And they’re just always so happy and they just have such a bright, um, energy. So, yeah.

Connie Rahbany: And from your experience, how have you seen this benefiting others the most? Is it individually? Is it communal?

Sydney Anway: Um, the benefit for others was Spartython, it’s kind of both. Um, the community is able to get involved and they get to see these families and everything. And it’s just, Sparrow does such a great job too at connecting all of these different families. So they have other families and parents talk to you about what they’re going through and that benefit, that’s obviously a great one, just to make sure they have some sort of network to be able to, I guess I don’t really know how to put it in words. Um, but then I guess individually it does have a great impact on everyone that comes all of the students. They always have a great time. Um, they just, they love to see that there’s something great out there. There’s something great that we’re able to do. And like Emily said, too, we, we make an impact and we get to see that impact. So that’s definitely an individual benefit as well.

Connie Rahbany: And what types of fundraisers and involvement do you normally do?

Emily Valentine: Yeah. So we do a lot prior to our event with the local businesses and companies that are in the East Lansing area, we like to do percent nights and have all of our friends come support us at different local businesses. So those are some of the other, some of the fundraising things that we do. And I can let Sydney kind of say what we do during the event as well.

Sydney Anway: Yeah. So last year I was actually the fundraising chair for Spartython. Um, so during the event we do kind of different push hours and where we just, even if fundraising isn’t going well, we just try to get the word out about what our organization is doing. Um, last year when it wasn’t all COVID we used to go out canning at the football games where we just walk around and tell everyone a little bit about our miracle kids at Sparrow. Um, and this year too, to add to the fundraising that we’re doing during COVID times, we do have merchandise that we are looking to kind of show to other people who want to get involved or kind of share their joy that they’re with the organization and everything like that, and be proud to be with Spartython.

Connie Rahbany: And what specifically does the fundraising go towards.

Sydney Anway: The fundraising goes towards the kids and everyone at sparrows children’s hospital. Whether that be different, um, I know we have fundraising that goes towards the premature diapers and everything like that, or different machines and equipment that they need, medical devices, everything of that sort. And it also goes to, the bigger children’s miracle network, which is the whole organization for Spartython.

Connie Rahbany:  And how has Spartython been impacted since the start of COVID-19?

Emily Valentine: Yeah, I know we have definitely seen a lot of changes basically all around with our organization, whether that’s trying to figure out how we’re still gonna do our meetings, also trying to find new ways and new ideas, how to fundraise, where we don’t have to try to get a bunch of MSU students together in large crowds. So we’ve honestly been moving a lot towards our social media and, like Sydney had mentioned with our merchandise store that’s coming out, just ways that people can still feel connected with us, with things that we can either send to them, or they can feel connected through our social media. Um, we’ve also had to deal with some changes regarding our, uh, event in February as well. So that has also been hard to navigate since a lot of dance marathons now have been fully online event. So that’s something that we’ve been kind of working on recently as well.

Connie Rahbany: And has there been a noticeable difference in the organizations operations, even just from this spring to now?

Sydney Anway: We have definitely. There’s been a difference. Um, we, throughout the spring, we’ve been transitioning into new positions obviously, and along with transitioning into new positions comes a ton of our e-board members that have so many different ideas that we’ve never kind of worked with before. So that’s something that we’re looking towards, like the merchandise store. We’ve never, we haven’t really done that recently. Um, and someone had brought up that idea. So. Through spring to now it’s been kind of different, but it’s going in the right direction. Um, and yeah, and we’re also trying to get more interaction with the participants prior to the actual events. That’s why we’re increasing our social media and trying to just reach out. And we have new spotlights for the dancers that are participants. So.

Connie Rahbany: You’re listening to WDBM East Lansing. I’m Connie Rahbany, your host of Exposure. Today we’re talking to Emily Valentine, the president of Spartython, and Sydney Anway, the vice-president of Spartython. And is there anything that Spartython is doing right now that you’d like to share that you might not have touched on yet?

Emily Valentine: So, I know that there’s something that we’ve been doing that we haven’t been able to do yet. And actually it’s really cool that being online has allowed us to do this. We’ve started to connect more with our miracle families before the actual event, which I think is huge because we’re able to show our participants and also our really large team this year that this is exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing. I know just for Halloween, we had this super fun pumpkin decorating contest with a few of the families. And that was so exciting to just get to talk to these kids when it wasn’t this massive event, it was just us. One-on-one getting to talk to them. And we also have plans to do one craft, a fun little zoom call that we invite everyone to come and enjoy hanging out with the kids. We are going to be doing some Christmas crafts. So. Think this is the first year we’ve ever done that. But being online actually makes it easier for us to talk to the kids more and interact with them in a different way that we’ve never been able to do

Connie Rahbany: And Sydney, did you want to touch on that at all?

Sydney Anway: That was exactly what I was going to say. Um, honestly being in these crazy times with COVID and everything it’s been kind of difficult, but that is the one bright thing that does come out of it is. These kids are doing their online school. And so they are happy to get on there and just talk to everybody. I mean, they love making any sorts of crafts and they love telling us about their crazy costumes and other stories like that, that they have. So it’s pretty good time to be able to share that with them.

Connie Rahbany: And Is there anything  that Spartython is doing, if you look ahead, you have something to look forward to at this time?

Emily Valentine: I would say we are definitely starting to plan some more merchandise stores and sticker stores as well in the near future. Once we are done with this one. So I know that’s always something fun to look forward to when you can. In years past, we’ve never had the opportunity to have different designs on shirts. It’s only been the day of participants get one t-shirt. So I think it’s fun to be able to spread the cause in that way. Um, along with also doing some other zoom calls as well, with a lot of our Greek life and organizations, where I feel like it’s more normal to do those calls now and talk to them and try to get them to join Spartython. So those are some fun upcoming things that we have planned.

Sydney Anway:  And then, another part that we have to look forward to is every year Spartython does a different theme for our event. So we are going to be releasing our theme. I know it’s kind of a little bit, a ways away. I think it’s late December, early January. Um, so that’ll be on all over social media. Everyone kind of goes all out for those themes. Um, the kids love them. Last year, we did Hollywood and they got VIP passes that they were in awe of it. So it’s always something to look forward to.

Connie Rahbany:  And I’m going to backtrack a little bit and ask you if you could describe your experience with Spartython all in one word, what would it be and why?

Emily Valentine: Got to think about this one. Um, maybe I’ll make it like, uh, this is, I guess this is technically one word, but I was going to say eye-opening, um, I guess it’s like a conjunction word, but I would just say kind of learning so much about the community and what the community is able to do. I think a lot of things that I’ve experienced with Spartython have been really eyeopening for me and just seeing everyone come together and all support one thing is huge, especially with everything going on. There’s just something that everyone can agree on and it’s helping these kids. And I think that’s been super eye-opening for me these past few years doing this because everyone has the same agenda. And I just love that. So I would say eye opening for sure.

Sydney Anway: For me, it’s kind of tough to just pick one word. Um, I’d probably say miracle just because every kid we meet is a miracle. The fact that our event has been going strong for this many years is insane to think about. And the whole children’s miracle network and dance marathons in general, it was just a miracle that it started in the first place. And we’ve come so far raising dollars as a collective dance marathon group across the country. Um, so that’s definitely a miracle that we’re able to even do that because that’s something that I would never think plausible.

Connie Rahbany: And if there’s anybody listening to this right now that is interested or could benefit from joining Spartython, what would you say to them?

Sydney Anway: I would say reach out, come check us out on social media. Um, we are a very welcoming group and we don’t turn anyone down. We love to have everyone involved with us. Um, the more the merrier and really you can always come see, we have so many miracle stories. If you want to hear about these kids or see photos and videos of them, those are all on our social media too. And it’s just, it’s something that’s very beneficial to be a part of. Not only just to see these kids and meet them, but it’s very rewarding.

Emily Valentine: Yeah, I would add that we’re definitely, of course always open to having more people help. And it is so nice to see that we have such a huge team this year. Um, we also offer to anyone who’s kind of interested, or maybe just wants to learn more about Spartython, they’re able to just come and sit in on one of our meetings, getting to know us a little bit, see how we work theirs before any commitments are made. But honestly, I will say we have a hundred percent. Success rate with that. So basically everyone that has come to see how we are and what we do has decided that they want to join us. So we’re super open to meeting people and want everyone to experience this cause the way we do as well.

Connie Rahbany: And how can someone who’s interested find you?

Emily Valentine: So our Instagram is probably the main way you can get involved with us. Um, it is MSU_Spartython. So we are always active on there. We have awesome marketing people that love what they do. And they’re so interactive with all the people that we have on Instagram, also our website, which is Spartython.weebly.com and that has information about registration also about the club a little bit more. Um, but Instagram is definitely the most informal and personal way that people can message us, dm us, and just get to know us a little bit through Instagram.

Connie Rahbany:  Is there anything else that you’d like to add that I might not have asked you about?

Emily Valentine:  Um, I think there’s definitely just, I know that with COVID and everything that’s going on. There are so many hesitations about joining things, whether that’s super far away, or even just not sure that you have enough time for that. And we are super flexible with so many people who work with us. And also we can guarantee you that even if our event is different from years past, it is still such an eyeopening experience. And we are still going to be offering so many great opportunities for anyone that wants to join our. Um our event is honestly one in a million. It is such an incredible experience. And I think now more than ever, it’s nice to talk to people who also have the same, um, viewpoints and care about these kids as well. I think it’s just nice to know that you have this set of people that are always going to be there for you and you all are for the kids. Always because like Sydney said at the beginning, we are able to wait for vaccines and waiting to make sure that everything’s gonna be better, but sometimes these kids can’t. So I think just stepping up and helping out is always like the best option.

Sydney Anway:  Not even that, but just to like, add to what Emily said too. Everyone that comes to be a part of Spartython, whether it be e-board committee participants, the families, we are all one family. I mean, we still have presidents that come back to see us because they are just so attached to these kids and dancers that are some of my friends. I know will ask about, Oh, how’s one of your miracle kids doing or something like that. And it’s just. it’s not something it’s not an organization where you’re a part of it. And then you kind of go off and forget about it. I mean, you’re always going to be with Spartython no matter how many years you might’ve been since you graduated MSU. So that’s one thing that’s really great.

Connie Rahbany: Well, Emily and Sydney, I want to thank you so much for speaking with me today about Spartython.

Emily Valentine: Thank you so much for having us.