In support of RJ Tonks, a senior sports management major and marketing minor at Waynesburg University, business students held Rise Up for RJ Saturday, Nov. 1, during half time of the football game. President Douglas G. Lee, as well as members of the Waynesburg University Business Club, presented Tonks with a check for $8,000 at the game.
After the check was created, donations continued to pour in, totaling $8,322 at last count for Tonks’ treatments at the Carrick Brain Centers in Marietta, Ga. This far surpassed the club’s original goal of $6,000.
Ashley Clark, a senior marketing major and accounting minor from McDonald, Pa.; Joshua Dains, a senior business management major from Clarksville, Pa.; and Kaitlyn Marteney, a senior forensic accounting and criminal justice major from Berlin, Pa., spearheaded the fundraiser to help Tonks defray the costs of treatment.
The students integrated service with learning by using skills gained in their business classes.
“We designed, ordered, sold and distributed the shirts, as well as everything in between,” said Dains. “Our professors were great people to bounce ideas off of, and they proved to be an awesome support system.”
The funds raised will go toward treatment and travel costs for Tonks. When he was eight, Tonks developed a virus that left a scar on his brain. For many years, the scar impaired Tonks’ hand eye coordination, mobility, speech, balance and fine motor skills. As a freshman, Tonks became dependent on a wheelchair for mobility.
“We are all really good friends with RJ,” said Clark. “We had heard that he may not be able to go down for treatment this semester because it is very expensive. We know that RJ's goal is to walk unassisted at graduation this May, and we understand how important that is to him.”
The senior Business Club majors designed a shirt to sell to staff, faculty, students and community members. The front of the shirt read "Rise Up for RJ," while the back contains Tonks’ personal motto, the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11.
In total, the club sold more than 600 shirts during the six-week fundraiser.
“It's an incredible feeling to know I have support from the entire Waynesburg University community,” said Tonks. “I was amazed at how much money was raised from the sale of the shirts. I am so thankful for my classmates in the Business Club that organized the fundraiser and everyone that bought or sold a shirt.”
The students held a “black out” at the November 1 Waynesburg versus Thomas Moore football game to sell shirts as the final fundraising push. Members of the crowd purchased and wore the black shirts in a show of support.
“We have all been greatly impacted by RJ's enthusiasm, motivation and humbling personality; we wanted to do something special for him.” Clark said. “His treatment costs $5,500 for one week. This amount does not include travel expenses like food, lodging, gas, etc. We are so happy to have surpassed our goal.”
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