Why I Give: Sarah’s Story

By: Emily Najera

January 06, 2023

Sarah Saxe

As an avid soccer player, Sarah saw her fair share of doctors growing up. However, it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease affecting how the body ingests gluten, that she became passionate about healthcare. “I couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Sarah said. “I was getting sick, and my symptoms were getting worse.” Thankfully, after seeing a handful of doctors, she was on the path to recovery. 

“I remember being so relieved, and still am! Now I can focus on getting better,” said Sarah. The most important change people make after being diagnosed with celiac disease is the shift to a gluten-free diet. For many, Sarah included, living gluten-free is a lifestyle change.

Thankfully, Sarah sees significant improvements in her health after adjusting her diet. “No one should just accept their symptoms as part of life,” said Sarah. Her increased awareness of health and nutrition motivated Sarah to study biology at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). “I want to be a pediatrician so I can help patients, especially kids, figure out treatment plans.” said Sarah who credits her experience living with celiac disease as her inspiration.

Dancing for Kids’ Health

Currently a senior at UNR, Sarah is a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, a co-ed international medical fraternity. Together with her classmates, she is bringing new energy and ideas to philanthropy. Sarah and the members of Phi Delta Epsilon are doing things differently and in many ways redefining what it means to give. This year, they are on a mission to raise funds for kids’ health at Renown Children’s Hospital. And they are doing this by dancing.

The UNR Dance Marathon is part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a student-led, year-round philanthropic movement that unites students across the United States and Canada. Collectively, they raise critical funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. And Renown Children’s Hospital is our northern Nevada CMN partner hospital.

Since 1991, over 400 college campuses and thousands of students have raised $300 million for kids.

Sarah is the executive director of UNR’s chapter. “So far this year we’ve already raised $10,000 for Renown," said Sarah. Most of the fundraising happens on the day of the dance marathon. But throughout the school year, students hold mini fundraisers on campus and in the community.

One hundred percent of the funds raised stay local, impacting Renown’s youngest patients. For every dollar donated, 18% helps provide charitable care, 15% goes to life-saving equipment, 12% supports medical research and 55% provides education, patient services and advancement services.

“It's inspiring that we banded together to help kids in our community,” said Sarah. Last year they raised over $18,000. They are hoping to exceed that number at this year’s dance marathon in April.

Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists

Sarah is humble, with a drive and determination that ensures she’ll succeed at whatever she does. When asked about giving back, Sarah said, “If you’re able to give back, why not?” It’s a mantra she lives by.

Sarah has always given back to her community. In middle school she volunteered as a youth soccer coach. In high school she volunteered with the Special Olympics advocating for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. During quarantine, she delivered groceries for Shopping Angels, a charitable organization, started here in Reno, providing free delivery services to seniors and immunocompromised individuals.

Now, she volunteers once a week at Renown Children’s Hospital, playing board games, reading, singing and coloring with patients.

At 21, Sarah’s energy is magnetic. She has a desire to see change and wants to be a part of it. “Whatever happens in my future, I will always give back to my community in any way I can,” said Sarah. “I have seen the impact that philanthropy has within this hospital and on the lives of these children and their families. It doesn’t matter how little or how much, every dollar matters,” said Sarah.

We salute you, Sarah. You’re leading the next generation of philanthropists, and we can’t wait to see what you do next. Thank you for your support of Renown Children’s Hospital. The UNR Dance Marathon is April 22, 2023. Click here to show your support.

Renown Health Foundation's Why I Give series recognizes donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations and others who provide philanthropic support to Renown. We are fortunate to have generous donors whose funding helps support and expand our efforts to meet the growing needs of the patients we serve. To learn more about how you can support Renown, please email foundation@renown.org or call 775-982-5545.
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