The 2017 hurricane season devastated parts of this country and Puerto Rico. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, in particular, hit Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic hard, causing millions in damages and the loss of life. People around the world asked themselves: what can we do to help? Christendom students took it upon themselves to produce an answer, and found one through their enormous amount of talent: a Broadway musical night, with all proceeds going to hurricane victims.
Christendom students are well known for their giving spirit. One only needs to look at the thousands that have gone on mission trips over the past 40 years to see that, or the thousands raised for children to be able to attend school in Banica, Dominican Republic. Students have formed bonds with these people, often encountering them year after year when they help during Spring Break. Seeing the devastation in the Dominican Republic, students knew they had to do something. People were hurting, and the students were going to do their best to fix that.
Sophomore Vivian Zadnik and senior Kieran O’Donnell came up with an idea: gather together Christendom’s best musical talent and put on a Broadway musical medley show, with all proceeds going to charity. When they pitched the idea to other students and the college staff, the response was even more positive than they expected.
“I had gone on Christendom’s mission trips to the Dominican Republic and, having experienced the poverty, I really wanted to help the victims of the hurricane in that area,” says O’Donnell. “When Vivian approached me and said she wanted to do a Broadway musical night, I was skeptical it would go anywhere. But after much prayer and consideration, I knew God was calling me to help these people by making Vivian’s dream a reality. There is so much marketable talent at this school and adding a fall festival around it was sure to raise the necessary funds.”
The students, under the leadership of Zadnik and O’Donnell, put together an evening’s worth of performances from famous musicals, including West Side Story, Wicked, and Dear Evan Hansen, and then practiced in the weeks leading up to the event. Zadnik directed and produced the show, while O’Donnell handled choreography and promotion of the event. Calling the show “Broadway on Mission,” they even expanded the scope of the night, making it a full-blown festival with pumpkin carving, a hay bale fortress, face painting, and more.
Families from around the Christendom area traveled out for the event, filling the night with laughter and applause. In the end, the students managed to raise $1500, which will go towards the Christendom mission trips program, making it possible for students to travel to the Dominican Republic to help in healing process.
Christendom students are talented, performing in plays, musicals, and talent nights throughout the year. They are also some of the most generous college students in America today, giving of their limited time and resources to help others less fortunate with themselves. For a night, they combined both attributes for the betterment of something greater than themselves.
“Here at Christendom, we have a culture where everything comes back to God, and I think that focus on something higher helps us, as students, focus on things outside ourselves,” says Zadnik. “For me, the thought of having everything I need while others are deprived of everything — how could someone not want to help?”