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Medlife at IU's step challenge to fundraise for South America COVID-19 relief



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The Medlife at IU Instagram page displays a poster for a step challenge. Medlife is raising money for a COVID-19 relief fund through a series of online events. Photo illustration by Sarah Zygmuntowski

Medlife at IU has organized virtual fundraising events starting Wednesday to help raise money for its COVID-19 relief fund to help people in need in South America.

The fundraising events include a step challenge and a Zoom call during which Medlife members will contact as many people as possible to raise money. These events are advertised on Medlife’s social media pages. Director of Fundraising Payton Sparks said the money raised will help people in South America that are experiencing financial difficulties, loss of access to water and lack of access to medical services. Within the last day, people donated at least $600, according to the donation webpage.

“Even though we are at home, we are trying to do the most we can to help,” Sparks said.

Medlife does volunteer work and fundraises throughout the year for various causes. It also sends members to volunteer in South America. Forty-four members planned to go to Peru and Ecuador over spring break. Sparks said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteer work was canceled. Sparks said Medlife at IU is focusing on raising money to support communities that are partnered with the organization's arm in South America.

“Our goal is to focus on smaller fundraisers so more people can participate and hopefully increase our total,” he said.

The step challenge will begin Wednesday and end April 28. Anyone can enter for a $5 fee. Participants should use step tracking watches and apps to submit their total steps every few days to Medlife to compete for $50.

Professional Development Chair Avery Chadd said she’s excited for the step challenge.

“I think the step challenge is a really good thing,” she said. “While we are still raising money for COVID-19, it also helps people to get out while they’re trying to practice social distancing.”

Medlife will also have a Zoom call for a “power hour” event on April 29, when at least 30 Medlife members will call and text people asking for donations. Sparks said members will be keeping track of the total amount of money raised during the call. Sparks said the organization hopes to raise $2,000 from all of the events it has organized by the end of the power hour.

The organization organized a water pong tournament from Friday to Sunday on the iMessage game app called GamePigeon. Sparks said he thought the event had a good turnout.

Sparks said 50 participants signed up and each paid a $2 entry fee. Participants then competed in a bracket-like tournament facing each other head-to-head, competing for a $50 first-place prize.

“I thought it was a really smart way to raise money,” said senior Robert Wisniewski, who won the iMessage tournament. "It was a great way to get 50 people to interact with each other from safe places.”

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