This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of To Dragma.
Over five decades ago, Alpha Omicron Pi began partnering with the Arthritis Foundation (AF) to raise money to help find a cure for arthritis. For 2019-2020, AOII has already committed more than three quarters of a million dollars to the AF for Juvenile Arthritis (JA) education, programming, and research. AOII will be funding JA Power Packs, all JA camps, two National JA Conferences, the Connect on Campus college program and researchers who are working to find a cure for arthritis.
One of AOII’s most recognizable contributions may be the distribution of comforting stuffed pandas to every child attending a JA Conference each year. The kids eagerly await the panda bear handouts from AOIIs who they know as “The Panda People.” The pandas are a much loved conference highlight for these children. This past summer, the pandas served an added purpose of being patients for the kids to practice administering shots, bandages and other treatments such as MRIs. These sessions mirror the experiences the children encounter during their own appointments, turning a frightening situation into a loving one.