For The Kids: UTSA’s premier pediatric cancer advocates

Danielle Throneberry

Each semester a myriad of UTSA students and members of the San Antonio community gather to “Zumba” and have fun, all while supporting FTK.

FTK, which is short for For The Kids, Dance Marathon at UTSA is the largest student-led, non-profit organization that provides both financial and emotional support to children and their families who are battling pediatric cancer in our city. FTK is directly affiliated with University Hospital, and the organization puts on many events for the kids and their families. According to Executive Director, Lial Baki, there will be a Halloween parade, a Halloween party and an FTK party at the hospital this year.

Not only does FTK visit the hospital, but they invite families out to events such as their family night, different sporting events and their annual Fashion Show and Dance Marathon that take place at UTSA. Baki stated that last year the organization raised $70,000 for families and the money raised has helped in a multitude of ways such as “to fly out families to St. Jude’s Hospital for experimental treatments, bills, food, gas money to travel to MD Anderson in Houston, prosthetic legs, hospice care and in some cases for families to say their final goodbyes.” Something as small as a $20 donation can assist with transportation to visit loved ones.

FTK holds three major events each year and the first of the Fall, Zumbathon, takes place next Monday, Oct. 10 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Denman Ballroom. Zumbathon is a Fall fundraising event that features four professional Zumba instructors and a costume contest! This year’s theme is “The 50s” and UTSA students and the San Antonio community can purchase their tickets online at bit.ly/ftkzumba2016. Participants can purchase their tickets for $7 or the t-shirt and ticket bundle for $20; otherwise, tickets will be $8 at the door.

Next is FTK’s annual Fashion Show on Nov. 18 from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Liu Auditorium in the Business Building. Baki states this is her favorite event because they actually invite the families to UTSA and “each child has an escort that will walk our kids down a little runway.” To help fundraise, FTK holds a small silent auction and sells food and t-shirts. The event is free and open to UTSA students and FTK reveals their theme for the year that night.

The final event is FTK’s Dance Marathon, which takes place in the Spring on April 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Convocation Center. At Dance Marathon, UTSA students, local high school students and members of the San Antonio community can register to be a dancer for just $30. Baki acknowledged that although you are not required to dance for 12 hours straight, by signing up you pledge to stand for 12 hours for those fighting pediatric cancer. The event features live performances, Zumba and games. Additionally, both the Greek and athletic communities participate and perform for families.

Baki affirmed that “towards the end of Dance Marathon, we have family hour in which families share their stories of battling cancer.” She revealed that it can be emotional, but that it is also extremely rewarding. At the end of Dance Marathon, the amount fundraised for the year is revealed!