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Hailey Cooper, Ole Miss grad, wins Leadership Award for RebelTHON

Hailey Cooper, a recent Ole Miss graduate, has been named a recipient of the 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for her work with RebelTHON.

Cooper, a Madison, Miss. native, first got involved with RebelTHON during her sophomore year at Ole Miss. After serving as a dancer for the first two years, she spent the remainder of her college career serving in leadership roles, including Director of High School Dance Marathon and President of the organization.

However, Cooper said she never intended to stay with RebelTHON as long as she did.

“One of my sorority sisters was on the Board of Directors in 2016, and she offered to film an embarrassing video if enough of our members signed up for RebelTHON that year,” Cooper said. “I registered and planned to stay at the dance marathon until midnight, but I fell in love with the cause and the kids and ended up staying for 2 more years.”

RebelTHON is a dance marathon and fundraiser held each year in Oxford to benefit Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. She is among 20 recipients of the award selected from 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada that participate in a Miracle Network Dance Marathon.

During her time with RebelTHON, Cooper personally raised more than $3,500 for the cause. Under Cooper’s leadership, RebelTHON surpassed its goal in February by more than $40,000 and raised more than $265,000 for children receiving treatment at Batson.

Upon learning she won the leadership award, Cooper said she was floored.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d gotten the award. Dance Marathon is a massive movement, and all of the students involved in it around the country are doing such incredible things for their hospitals and universities,” she said. “To be recognized among a group of passionate, hardworking students like those who participate in MNDM is truly an honor.”

Funds raised by RebelTHON go towards providing for patient care and, more importantly, making difficult times easier for families affected.

One of the ways RebelTHON funds are used is the BandAid room at Batson.

“There’s one room on the tour of Batson that brings everything into perspective. It’s called the BandAid room, and it’s filled with any kind of BandAid a kid could want – Cars, Hello Kitty, Princesses, et cetera. After they’ve been pricked with needles they didn’t ask for, as part of a treatment they didn’t choose, for a disease they never wanted, there’s one choice that is theirs to make: what kind of BandAid do they want?,” Cooper said. “The world’s problems are complex and overwhelming, but the ways to help are often simple, like getting to pick a BandAid from the BandAid room.”

Donating as little as $5 towards RebelTHON’s fundraising efforts, participating as a student dancer, or attending community hours at the dance marathon in February to show patients at Batson that you stand with them makes a massive impact, Cooper said.

While she’s given countless hours of time and energy to RebelTHON’s cause, Cooper insists that the organization has given back to her tenfold.

“RebelTHON gave me more than I could have ever imagined when I signed up in 2016,” she said. “At Ole Miss, RebelTHON gave me a family that includes the most hardworking team of people I’ve ever known, and I don’t know that I would’ve connected with them otherwise. The people I found through Dance Marathon and the lessons they taught me are, by far, the greatest thing RebelTHON gave me.”