In recognition of #GivingTuesday, With Purpose will be highlighting four spectacular youth advocates. A recent graduate of Texas A&M University, Cole Stenholm discusses why With Purpose was such a major part of his college experience.
How did you get involved in With Purpose?
I was in a service learning project in a public speaking class my freshman year at Texas A&M. Our group of ten students launched a campaign to support childhood cancer research benefitting With Purpose. We coordinated a 5K Race in May of 2015. We fielded roughly 75 runners and raised just over $1,700. Afterward, we decided to transform our class project into a year-round, recognized student organization at Texas A&M now known as With Purpose: College Station.
What has being a part of With Purpose taught you?
My involvement in With Purpose has taught me two key things. First, there are several real-world issues, including childhood cancer, about which I know too little. For instance, I was previously unaware of the “4%” childhood cancer funding gap. I felt the gravity of this gap when I traveled to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, with members of our student chapter and visited with inpatient children in the pediatric oncology unit. That experience placed my work in With Purpose, and also my entire life, in a new light. Second, With Purpose showed me the potential for teamwork to make a positive impact on a cause, such as ours. Our student chapter, which has grown to roughly 50 members, has raised over $14,000 since 2014 and this does not include what we have also raised in the form of awareness or toys collected for donation drives.
What makes With Purpose special?
My college experience in With Purpose was special for many reasons, but one that stands out is just how much fun that I had. We made our campaigns fun by having, for example, friendly competitions to see who could hand out the most advertising flyers or by playing music while banner holding on-campus. We also took time to just get to know one another by going out bowling or picnicking, for instance. It was refreshing to meet so many people who care about this cause and who are genuinely invested in what we are doing. We enjoyed each other’s company and I found that, even while engaged in our tasks, we often made each other laugh, almost contagiously. Looking back, I can say that most of my college friends were a part of With Purpose.
Do you think With Purpose has empowered you?
Without question. I am now attending law school, in great part, because of my With Purpose experience and my belief that I can continue advocating for people, such as those affected by childhood cancer, through public policy.
What does the word “spark” mean to you?
Spark means to facilitate a change within something or someone poised for such a change. With Purpose sparked a change within me by instilling confidence in myself and in my ability to help make our world a truly better place.