Students Pursue Shared Service Goals in UNICEF Chapter
Oct. 7, 2011
The UT Dallas UNICEF chapter's charity fund-raiser this week is the largest endeavor the recently founded group has coordinated since its arrival at the university.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is an emergency relief organization that provides aid and welfare to children in need around the world.
Kamal Albright (standing) hands out fliers at the Student Union to promote UNICEF’s Spina Bifida Week. (Photo by Christopher Wang of The Mercury Staff)
The year-old UNICEF chapter at UT Dallas is an association of likeminded students who wish to promote philanthropy at the university.
This week's fundraiser was designed to raise money for prevention and awareness of the birth defect spina bifida, which plagues about 1,500 newborns each year. Proceeds go to the world UNICEF organization and the Spina Bifida Association of North Texas.
Kamal Albright, psychology senior, orchestrated a 5K walk, which will give away T-shirts and frozen yogurt as a culmination of the fundraising event.
“This is the first time I’ve organized an event of this caliber, but through my whole life I’ve always been a person that gravitated towards helping others,” he said.
Albright, who had not heard of spina bifida before, learned about the debilitating disease from a fellow UNICEF member, Sasha Burrowes, a neuroscience junior, who told Albright about her 5-year-old brother's daily struggles with the disease.
“It’s been really hard on my family,” Burrowes said. “But we’ve been thankful that we at least live in a country where that sort of medical treatment is available. And that’s one of the things I wanted to emphasize with this week. Kids in third world countries in Africa and South American countries — even over in Europe — they don’t have this kind of treatment available.”
Interactions like these are what give the organization its momentum, its members said.
The university’s UNICEF chapter members come from diverse cultures and walks of life, but their appeals to humanitarianism unite their assembly.
Isis Lopez, molecular biology junior, became president of the group this semester, but her familiarity with UNICEF and its work extends back into her childhood.
“When I lived in Honduras, UNICEF would give out vaccinations, so I got my smallpox vaccinations from them,” Lopez said.
This simple yet lasting act of kindness made an impression Lopez who has decided to enter the medical profession, so she can extend the same helping hand that was once offered to her.
Lopez said Spina Bifida Week was only the beginning of UNICEF’s work at UT Dallas, and a much larger Justice Week event will be hosted next semester.
The walk to raise money for spina bifida had to move from its original date of Oct. 8 to Oct. 29 because of a conflicting charity walk scheduled by Kappa Alpha Theta on the same Saturday.
Despite the delay, Albright still expects the walk to draw at least 100-150 participants.
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