Spring ’19 Volunteering: Buckeyethon and Dunn Dash Triathlon

During the spring semester I spent time participating in Buckeyethon and volunteering at the Dunn Dash Triathlon.

Buckeyethon is one of the signature events at Ohio State, where students spend 12 hours on their feet to raise money and awareness for children with cancer and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Cancer has unfortunately affected a number of my close family members and friends, so being able to participate in the dance marathon was extremely important to me. Not only was I able to meet the minimum fundraising goal of $250, but I was able double that and reach $575 dollars. My fellow Dunn Scholars and I participated in the Grey Shift portion of Buckeyethon, which was extra special as we were able to interact with many of the kids and their families. While we did play some gaga ball, a majority of our 12 hours volunteering was spent dancing in silent disco or the main ballroom. It was extremely rewarding to see how much fun the kids were having and just seeing the smiles on the faces, having fun just like any other kid. In total, this year’s Buckeyethon raised $1.7 million dollars and helped us get closer towards getting rid of childhood cancer.

On March 2, I also spent 5 hours volunteering at the Dunn Dash Indoor Triathlon, which is a triathlon hosted by the department of Recreational Sports in honor of Mike Dunn, who helped to found the Dunn Scholars program that I am a part of. A group of about 8 other scholars and myself were asked to help in the swimming portion of the event. While our main role was to keep track of the number of laps our participants completed, we were also there to provide support and encouragement for all participants. Swimming was the last portion of the triathlon, so it was essential that we helped the participants to finish strong and reach their goals.

From volunteering at Buckeyethon and the Dunn Dash, I have seen how having a positive attitude and energy can have a large influence on others. After Buckeyethon, I had a number of people tell me that our team was by far the most energetic, and that people knew when my friends and I were in the room because they could see how much fun we were having. We made a lot of new friends by having people come up to us and ask if they could dance with us, and many of the Buckeyethon kids wanted to dance with us too. Likewise, as an athlete, I know that there are times that you just want to give up and you don’t think that you can do anymore, but having that encouragement and support is so crucial to keep you going. Many of the athletes I helped were grateful for the encouragement I gave them while they were competing. While 10 minutes may seem like a short amount of time, I wanted to help them set records and accomplish a goal that they had trained and worked hard for. I believe one can make a positive impact whether they are a leader of a group of 20 or just 2. I know that I have lead well when I challenge others to push themselves out of their comfort zone and make a difference for someone else. Because of service learning, I have seen the impact that a college campus can make and want to continue to set a positive example for other students in the future.

Volunteering: Hot Chocolate Run

On November 18, my friends and I volunteered at the annual Hot Chocolate Run in downtown Columbus. The Hot Chocolate Run is a 5k/15k race run in cities across North America, from Chicago, to San Francisco, and even Mexico City. The race promises a fun and exciting environment for participants as runners can enjoy music and upon reaching the finish line, receive a medal (shaped like a chocolate bar!) and a souvenir mug filled with hot chocolate and fondue. Most importantly, the official charity of the Hot Chocolate Run is the Make-A-Wish foundation, and participants are encouraged to make a donation to Make-A-Wish upon registration and encourage friends and family to support these fundraising efforts.

I have volunteered at the Hot Chocolate Run in previous years, but this was my first year volunteering at the Run here in Columbus. Our volunteer group was stationed in the chocolate tent, near the finish line of the race. The chocolate tent was organized similarly to an assembly line, where each volunteer group had a vital role. One group packaged the souvenir mugs and passed them along to the next group, who filled them with chocolate fondue. My group was responsible for filling cups of hot chocolate to be placed in the mugs and then handed to the runners as they finished. Our success as a volunteer group was important, as most people couldn’t wait to receive the hot chocolate as soon as the crossed the finish line. Additionally, we also enjoyed providing support to the runners and cheering them on as they came to our tent.

As a volunteer, I learned that sometimes you have to make sacrifices and remind yourself to put others first. Our volunteer shift started at 5:30 in the morning, which meant we had to sacrifice some sleep in order to stick to the commitment we made and arrive at our shift on time. It would have been easy to just go back to sleep and not go to the race, but we knew these runners and coordinators were counting on us to make the race a success, so we put the interests and happiness of others above our own for a few hours. As a leader, I think it is also important to encourage your group to always have a positive energy and attitude, and demonstrate this through your own actions. If people see that their leader is not putting for the effort in a task, then they are most likely not going to want to give the effort necessary to make the project a success. Because of service learning, I am more conscious of how my actions as a leader affect the actions and attitudes of those around me and am committed to always making my projects a success.

DSWS Day of Service: The Dream Center

On Saturday, November 18, a group of my fellow Dunn Scholars and I spent 3 hours volunteering at the Dream Center in Columbus. The Dream Center is a community based organization that opened in 2015 and is dedicated to providing meals, showers, and medical care to the homeless and needy populations of Columbus. The Center also sponsors a youth outreach program, where kids can develop strong and healthy relationships with volunteers to help build character and prepare them for the future. Located next door to Rock City Church, the Dream Center also works to enhance spiritual wellness by offering Bible Study and prayer sessions. More information about the great work they do can be found at their website: http://columbusdreamcenter.org.

Much of our service performed at the Dream Center was centered around helping them prepare for a dinner they host on Thanksgiving day for those who do not have a place to go and have a warm meal. To help them prepare we performed 4 different activities. One group helped in the kitchen, cleaning the tables and chairs, and also checking inventory to make sure they had all the necessary supplies and equipment ready. Another group helped to sort a large amount of donated coats and socks that would then be given out to those who do not have these basic necessities. Lastly, my group and I helped to organize over 100 bags that contained hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste/toothbrushes. It was eyeopening to see just how many things, such as having warm socks, we truly take for granted. Finally, we went door-to-door to homes around the Dream Center, handing out flyers to let people know about the Thanksgiving dinner. It was heartwarming to see how much community support the Dream Center has, from volunteers to rooms filled with donations to those who need it most.

As a result of this service, I believe I was made more aware of just how fortunate I am here at Ohio State. We don’t even think about having more than one pair of socks, but for many people having just one pair of socks is a luxury. Especially with Thanksgiving approaching, I think it is so important to take the time to step back and realize how we have a responsibility to help those in our community who are less fortunate than we are. Volunteering has also impacted me as a leader since these projects have challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and take initiative in projects I may never have previously  been a part of. I believe volunteering has also strengthen my values and pushed me to become more passionate about giving back, which in turn helps me to take initiative in projects that involve causes i am most passionate about.

Because of this service learning experience, I am more connected to my community and am more aware of how many great organizations are working to help the Columbus community.

True Colors Reflection

In performing this activity, I found that the color I most identify with is “blue.” As a “blue,” I have a tendency to be compassionate, level-headed, and am dedicated to the activities I do and groups that I am involved in. I plan to implement many of these qualities while working with a variety of other groups/teams in a number of ways. For example, I always want my group to succeed no matter the task, and will do whatever is asked of me in order to please others and do what is in the best interest of everyone. I also place high emphasis on the emotions and feelings of others around me. If someone is not having their voice heard or does not feel that they belong, I will make sure they they feel valued and will personally find a role that will suit them best and make them happy.

Another way I plan to apply myself is when working with a team that has a variety of “colors” and traits. For instance, “oranges” tend to be very adventurous and opportunistic, but may come on too strong to other members of the group. As a blue, I want to find a balance of our strengths in order to make sure we complete the task to the best of our ability.

Lastly, I have strong opinions about my values and beliefs and want the projects I am working with to align with these values. If I feel that the projects I am working on are not similar to the things I care about, I will take the time to evaluate whether this is a group I want to be working with, or if there are ways that I can make the topic more aligned with my morals and beliefs.

Volunteering at Indianola Formal K-8 School

On August 25, 2018, a group of Dunn Sport and Wellness Scholars and I spent 5 hours participating in Ohio State and Pay It Forward’s annual Community Commitment day of service. Our group volunteered at Indianola Formal K-8 School in their community garden. Throughout the morning, we helped with a variety of tasks. First, we were educated on a number of invasive plants, such as morning glory, that were growing in the schools’ community garden and needed to be removed. I do not have much experience with taking care of a garden, so learning about these species was a new experience for myself (and also for the other members of my group). The garden had a large amount of these invasive plants when we arrived, so we broke off into small groups to try and remove the morning glory and other plants from the garden. It was amazing to see how large these plants had grown and how far into the ground the roots went. Some of the morning glory required teamwork- two or three people pulling at the plant or cutting the roots to try and remove it. Once our group, with the help of some school families and local volunteers, had removed as many of the plants and weeds that we could, we worked as a team to lay down mulch to set a new pathway. Lastly, and perhaps the most exciting part of our service, we were able to harvest some of the ripe fruits and vegetables that had been planted and grown for the families to take home. We were able to harvest about 40 baby tomatoes, 2 large squash, 10 apples and plums, and another 15 peppers. Many of the young school children were so excited to show us their school and garden, and were very eager for us to try the food with them.

With this service project, I also had an additional responsibility of being a site leader. My role was to lead my group in successfully completing our project. At first, I was a little nervous about taking on the role, as this was my first time leading a group in a service project. However, everyone in my group was very excited about volunteering and was great and providing support and encouragement throughout the day. Our leader at the school, Amy, was so grateful for our help from the moment we arrived, and was always willing to help us or answer any questions that we may have had. Through this service project, I felt I that I had grown in the areas of environmental wellness and leadership, and also become more educated about the field of garden Hearing not only the excitement from my group but the gratitude from the parents and children at the school made my volunteer experience and positive and all the worthwhile.

Leadership Definition and Example

Leadership can be defined as the act of guiding a person (or group of people) through an activity, challenge, or obstacle through instruction and positive attitude and enforcement. A true leader will inspire others to feel they have sufficiently completed a task, and may even be inspired to become leaders themselves. I have seen leadership in my own high school lacrosse team, when players have taken it upon themselves to rally the team together without the coaches instruction. They showed leadership through calling a time-out when people were getting frustrated, or simply encouraging their teammates if they made a good play or were trying their best. I would define this as leadership because we were working as a team to achieve a common goal: either scoring, stopping the other team from scoring, or simply stopping the other team from scoring. Additionally, to achieve this common goal, the leader of the group had to provide encouragement, energy, and respect to help everyone achieve their goals

About Me

My name is Amanda Acosta and I am beginning my freshman year at Ohio State starting this fall. I am an exercise science, pre-physical therapy major and one day hope to be working as a physical therapist. Growing up in Chicago, sports has always had a large role in my daily life. I played both volleyball and softball throughout elementary school, and was a member of the varsity lacrosse team throughout all four years of high school. I joined the Dunn Sport and Wellness Scholars program because of this passion for athletics, and hope to join an intramural or club sport in my first year at Ohio State.

Additionally, I have a passion for volunteering and helping those in my community. In high school, I was a member of the school’s Key Club International chapter. As a chapter, we volunteered with a number of Chicagoland area organizations and events, including the Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle, Ronald McDonald Houses, Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Food Depository. I love feeling as if I can make a positive difference in my community and hope to continue volunteering while in Columbus. 

My hobbies include reading, listening to music, watching The Office or sports games. Living in Chicago, I have been lucky to attend a large number of sports events and festivals, such as the Cubs’ World Series Victory Parade and Lollapalooza. My mom works for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and my dad works for a produce market.

While in Columbus, I am excited to visit museums, attend Blue Jackets games, and try all the incredible restaurants. I can’t wait to continue my academic and professional careers at Ohio State!