Four student organizations win Chancellor's Excellence Awards

Dance Marathon, TAPP, Mizzou Unity Coalition and Camp Kesem win top awards.

Four student organizations were honored for their contributions to campus at the 2013 Chancellor's Excellence Awards, which recognizes exemplary students, faculty and student groups on campus.

Dance Marathon won the Most Improved Organization award. The annual event increased its participation from last year by more than 350 dancers. Additionally, Dance Marathon raised nearly three times as much — $152,402 in all — than its 2012 showing.

Annie Bastida, outgoing Dance Marathon executive director, said she was happy with the award and is looking forward to seeing what next year's Dance Marathon can accomplish.

“To me, this award symbolizes the turning point for Dance Marathon as an organization that can be sustainable and continue to grow on our campus," Bastida said in an email. "I can't wait to see what next year's group accomplishes, and I'm positive it will be nothing short of miraculous.”

The group attributes the growth to its members' greater accountability and the close-knit “DMamily.”

Dance Marathon Director of Public Relations Victoria Mechler said the organization is looking for even more improvement next year.

“After the 2013 Main Event, the entire steering committee met and discussed the successes of the year and how Mizzou Dance Marathon can further improve," Mechler said in an email. "For 2014, we are planning to improve our family-dance interaction."

Tigers Against Partisan Politics, a political education organization without party affiliation, took home the award for Best New Organization.

TAPP President Camille Hosman said TAPP provided a lot of opportunities, events and resources for students in its first year of existence. She said she likes what the group has done so far and said politics are very important all the time, not just during election season. She also hopes more students will get involved next year.

Mizzou Unity Coalition, a 3-year-old organization, received the Best Small Organization award.

What started out two years ago as an Alternative Spring Break group that traveled to Charleston, S.C., the Mizzou Unity Coalition strived to bring something to Columbia the group felt was missing: a relationship with those who have disabilities.

President Alyssa Shaw said the group is hoping to expand next year.

“We love talking to FIGs, classes, and we’re even trying to get our foot in the door to start talking with other organizations on campus,” Shaw said.

Shaw said she believes that what the group has accomplished in so little time led them to receive the award, which she hopes can in turn get their name and purpose out to the MU community.

The group has implemented a program called Tiger Buddies, where they pair a MU student with an individual in the Columbia community that has a disability once a week, in addition to hosting walks and working with the adaptive garden on campus.

Made possible solely through private donations, Camp Kesem was the winner of the Best Large Organization category. Then-senior Adam Ryan started an MU chapter last year after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The camp provides activities for those children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer.

Co-chair Jaclyn Dipasquale said she is proud of how far the group has come since it began last year, noting that the number of campers has risen from 30 last year to 53 and counting for this summer’s program.

She attributes the victory to how passionate everyone involved is and finds it especially amazing that a group of full-time students are able to do such noble work.

"It's amazing how a passionate group of full-time students are able to pull this off, seeing as how it could also be a full-time job," Dipasquale said.

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