Clemson senior helped raise more than $600K in honor of sister who died of cancer

Morgan Witherspoon, center, is presented the Phi Kappa Phi Certificate of Merit with David Neyens, associate professor of industrial engineering (left) and Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences (right). Photo provided.

Morgan Witherspoon was 9 years old when her 12-year-old sister, Jenna, died from brain cancer. At the time, she didn’t fully understand it.

“It’s not easy as a 9-year-old to lose your sibling,” Witherspoon said. “At that age, I don’t think I fully grasped what cancer was.”

But the short time she had with her sister shaped her childhood.

“I spent two-and-a-half years with my sister basically in the hospital,” Witherspoon said. “I still have memories from those years. Her life had been extended longer than they thought it would be when she was first diagnosed [at 9 years old].”

Jenna Witherspoon, left, and Morgan Witherspoon. Photo provided.

Witherspoon’s family and friends started a fundraiser after Jenna died called “Jenna’s Legacy of Smiles,” whose proceeds went to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Jenna primarily stayed. A room in the hospital has Jenna’s name on it because of those efforts.

“She was very joyful, bubbly. She always had a smile on her face, no matter what was going on,” Witherspoon said. “She went through all of the surgeries, all of the pricking and needles, but still was smiling and making sure everyone around her was laughing.”

Now, Witherspoon, a Fort Mill native, is graduating from Clemson University in one week after working with Clemson Miracle to help raise more than $600,000 for the Prisma Health–Upstate Children’s Hospital in the last four years.

Clemson Miracle, a nonprofit student organization on campus, is in its 10th year of raising money for the children’s hospital. The organization has raised nearly $750,000 in those 10 years, but it’s really made strides in the last few years, hitting six figures each year since 2017.

Clemson Miracle volunteers celebrate raising $234,851.79 this year after the organization’s biggest annual dance marathon fundraiser. Photo provided.

“My freshman year, we hit $70,000, and then in the past two years, we hit $230,000 each year,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon got involved her freshman year before becoming the organization’s executive director her junior and senior years. She’s personally raised about $12,000, which went to the children’s hospital.

Witherspoon will graduate on May 9 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. She’s already secured a job as an engineer with Boeing in Charleston. When Witherspoon leaves Clemson, she’ll hand the student organization off to a new executive director.

“It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had at Clemson,” Witherspoon said.


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