For the past three years, Title21 Health Solutions has proudly sponsored the Be Strong and Give Back Happiness Swimathon, an annual fundraising event organized by fourteen-year-old, Sarah Banholzer, and her family (pictured above). At a young age, Sarah was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After two and a half years of treatment at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Sarah became leukemia-free and is now dedicated to raising funds to support the patients at the very hospital where she received her treatment.
The Be Strong and Give Back Happiness Swimathon has raised nearly $42,000 over the past three years and the funds have been used to start several new programs to improve the lives of the patients while undergoing treatment. We sat down with Sarah to learn more about her dedication and inspiration for giving back to the patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Tell us about your passion for giving back to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when I was four and a half years old. I was treated at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland with two and a half years of chemotherapy, and once I was better I wanted to give back to the hospital in some way. When I was ten years old, I started out selling handmade Christmas ornaments, using the money to buy Christmas gifts for the children who have to stay at the hospital during the holidays. I continued to sell ornaments during Christmas-time for a couple of years until three years ago when my family and I put on our first swimathon.
Where does the name ‘Be Strong and Give Back Happiness’ come from?
When I was in fifth grade we wrote a ‘6 Word Memoir’ and “Be Strong and Give Back Happiness” was the one I wrote about my life so far.
How did you come up with the idea to host a swimathon?
When I was eight years old I joined a swim team near my house. It was so much fun and after six years, I continue to swim for that swim team today. I can remember that swimming on that team felt like the first “normal” thing I had done after my remission. I thought it would be a great idea to mix one of my favorite hobbies, swimming, with raising money for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
What programs does the Be Strong and Give Back Happiness Swimathon benefit?
In the past years, the Be Strong and Give Back Happiness Swimathon proceeds have gone to improving many aspects of the hospital. For example the money has been used to buy Chemo Ducks that have a port in attached to them that patients are able to take home to help explain some of the basic procedures the child will have to go through. The Swimathon money was also used to buy equipment for a live variety show, called ‘The CHO Show’, put on by the Child Life specialists for patient viewing. We have also been able to buy life sized dolls used by Child Life specialists to demonstrate procedures and ease children’s concerns. Finally, along with arts and craft supplies, the Swimathon money has bought take home pill boxes for parents to organize their child’s medicines.
What is your favorite part of the Swimathon?
My favorite part of the Swimathon is swimming in my 30-minute time slot, as well as seeing everyone in the water swimming and have a great time. I believe that the Swimathon is such a great event because people have fun while also doing something that benefits other people, which is really the best of both worlds.
What are your goals for future years of the Swimathon?
My goal in raising money for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland is that if I can make a child’s day in the hospital any better than it was before, then I will feel accomplished in what I have done. This is our third year putting on the Swimathon and we would like to continue putting it on as long as we are able to.
Our team at Title21 Health Solutions is inspired by Sarah and her family’s spirit of giving back and shares their passion for supporting the lives of patients! To learn more about the Be Strong and Give Back Happiness Swimathon and Sarah’s other fundraising efforts, visit the Be Strong and Give Back Happiness website where donations to support the USCF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland are accepted year-long.