It’s All About Gratitude

Thursday, February 1, 2018
By Mara Shurgot

Current Duke Medical students (and the Blue Devil) make calls during the 5th annual Thank-A-Thon.

How often do you receive a call just to hear the voice on the other end say, “Thank you”?

Well, that’s exactly what 728 Medical Annual Fund donors heard when they picked up the phone on Friday, October 13, as part of the 5th annual Thank-A-Thon. The calls were made by 19 School of Medicine student ambassadors and volunteers, and were part of a much larger coordinated display of gratitude that involved representatives from eight units of Duke Health. 

The week kicked off with a flurry of social media activity highlighting the theme, Because of You, featuring photos and quotes from patients and providers. By Friday, the Great Hall at the Trent Semans Center had been turned into a logistical hub of phones, coffee, sandwiches, and cupcakes. Students and staff engaged in friendly competition to see who could make the most calls, and the Duke Blue Devil stopped by to lend support.

Over the course of the day, a total of 4,137 donors were called, 10,157 thank you postcards were mailed, 10,556 thank you emails were sent out, and more than 200 cupcakes were devoured. 

“People were truly shocked that the only reason we were calling was to say thank you,” says Stacy Davis, director of constituency pipeline and development for the School of Medicine. “They really appreciated it. Several of the alumni asked the students how school was going, and the students were happy to talk about their experiences.”

For the students, it was a chance to show their appreciation to the many alumni whose generosity makes their education possible. In addition to the calls, emails, and cards, students signed 118 thank you letters to scholarship donors.

The event has grown over the years. Led by Duke Children’s in 2013 and joined by the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, the event now includes Duke Cancer Institute, Duke HomeCare & Hospice, Duke Eye Center, and Duke Heart Center, Duke Health Fund, as well as the School of Medicine students.    

And the goal is for the event to keep growing. “We definitely want to reach more donors next year,” says Davis. “We’ll need to set up more phones, but we’re already thinking about how we can expand.”


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