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Press Release

Release Date: September 03, 2020

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Daniel Carpenter

Chickasaw citizen Daniel Carpenter’s has a zeal for philanthropy.

His enthusiasm and hard work led to his receiving the 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award. Mr. Carpenter was presented the award for his involvement with the University of Oklahoma’s Soonerthon.

Soonerthon is OU’s official philanthropy event of the Campus Activities Council (CAC). All proceeds raised go to the Children’s Hospital Foundation in Oklahoma City, through the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“It’s OU’s largest student-lead philanthropy, and the organization really prides itself on that aspect,” Mr. Carpenter said. “It’s kind of a shiny element to help people to understand some unique things about it.”

OU’s Dance Marathon was founded by Daniel Pullin, Dean of Price College of Business in 1996. The OU Dance Marathon was adopted and restructured by the CAC in 2004, noted as a milestone for changing the culture of the event. Soonerthon became the official name of the philanthropy in 2013.

Mr. Carpenter’s involvement with the organization dates back to his high school days.

“Soonerthon came to Ada High School and asked if we wanted to have a mini dance marathon,” he said. “They acted as a liaison and helped in event planning, leadership development and other hands-on components.”

He served as Ada High student council president his senior year.

"I was directly working with the leadership team from Soonerthon and I got to know them and visit OU’s campus,” he said. “I gained a lot of experience from that and I started to fall in love with OU because of all of the leadership opportunities they offered.”

The wide variety of educational opportunities made available to students at OU made Mr. Carpenter eager to attend the university. After witnessing the sense of community Ada High School gained from its mini dance marathon, he knew volunteering for Soonerthon at the collegiate level was the right move.

Currently an OU senior, Mr. Carpenter is close to earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is working to complete a double major in economics and finance.

Both degree plans allowed him to acquire a diverse skill set and were essential in opening doors for him in the professional world.

He said that economics courses offered a unique opportunity to develop his coding skills.

“I’ve learned a lot of different programming languages, which has been influential in me getting job offers, he said.

“Finance has given me another perspective which has been very marketable – tools from Excel, financial analysis modeling, and other components have been instrumental in the job market, as well as being able to apply it to things like Soonerthon,” Mr. Carpenter said. "My finance degree was very helpful in what I was able to do in my final position at Soonerthon."

Mr. Carpenter has volunteered and served in four different roles for Soonerthon during his undergraduate years.

In 2017, he served as a mini marathon’s liaison, where he developed high school leaders through event planning. In 2018, he was the vice chair of mini marathons, and provided sustainable strategies while leading mini marathon liaisons. In 2019, he helped grow the new committee, data analysis, whose goal was to create a data-driven culture throughout the organization. During his final year, he founded the new position of executive vice chair of finance, where he provided financial strategy to vice chairs and the executive chair.

Soonerthon sees roughly 3,000 participants a year, and within the organization there are additional levels of involvement. The executive committee receives approximately 600 to 800 applications in the fall, and of those only about 250 are accepted. Those individuals serve on 10 individual committees and come together to plan the events.

“After applying and being accepted to the executive committee, you can also apply for the vice chair team,” Mr. Carpenter said. “The vice chair team are the people who lead those 10 committees.”

In his most recent role as executive vice chair of finance, Mr. Carpenter implemented elements to help Soonerthon be more efficient in its decision-making processes. He plans to present these tools to Dance Marathons at the national level, so they could be readily available to any decision maker in Dance Marathon.

Mr. Carpenter has interned for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce in the Operational Performance and Analysis Department.

“Interning has helped me to become a better consultant,” he said. “It’s allowed me to lead meetings and read my audience, and prepare data driven analysis’ that can be so complex. It’s allowed me to able to present in a way that anybody can understand, while respecting them as individuals as well. From start to finish, it has helped me in so many ways.”

Upon graduation, he plans to work as an operational analyst and consultant in Oklahoma, while continuing his education by pursuing a master’s degree in data science at OU. He also plans to obtain an additional master’s in business administration.

As for the award Mr. Carpenter recently received, he regards it as a great completion to his final year at Soonerthon. With close to 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada participating in fundraising events for Children’s Miracle Network, only 25 students were selected to receive the 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award.

These students were chosen for making outstanding impacts within their Dance Marathon program, individual campus and their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Mr. Carpenter collectively raised $15,486 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation during his fundraising tenure at OU. He doesn’t consider his success story a monetary achievement – but about community and caring for others.

“I’m really thankful our community was able to see the meaning behind this,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of support and I couldn’t be more thankful to the individuals who came and saw that in us. I know some people may not get to see the direct impact immediately, but you never know who that donation will go to and what it will go to.”

Soonerthon has multiple fundraising events throughout the year. Teams and individuals partake in their own peer-to-peer fundraising functions, as well as campus-wide events, with it all culminating in the Dance Marathon.

“The main event is the Dance Marathon, which is called, ‘The Day of Soonerthon,’” Mr. Carpenter said. “That event is to bring the campus together. All 3,000 participants register through the online service and they come to the event. The whole idea of the event is to celebrate the miracle families. There are about 35 miracle families that associate themselves and participate with Soonerthon. That’s the time for our campus to play and enjoy time with the miracle families. We get to know them and understand their stories, why we participate, and why we stand for the kids. It’s a 12-hour dance marathon, so there’s a lot of dancing that occurs. But there are other events that happen throughout the day as well. It’s a pretty cool event.”

Mr. Carpenter is extremely grateful for the opportunities Soonerthon has given him, most importantly the effort to give back to others.

“It’s changed a lot of my life,” he said. “It’s helped me gain a lot of empathy for others and to care for these families. I strive to make sure that I’m thinking about all of the different perspectives, because you never know what someone else is going through. When it comes to the leadership side of things, it’s been instrumental as well, because it’s helped me lead a team, understand how to overcome adversity and to understand when it’s important to take the actions to add value to the organization, as well as others lives.”­