Think Pink & Be IZpired: Lauren's Love for Two Philanthropies

Being a college student is undeniably a huge time commitment. Some find the ability to balance a part-time job, extracurricular activity or leadership position on top of the work load, but UNCC senior, Lauren Wohlrab, manages to stack on all three. I sat down with my good friend Lauren while she explained the amazing things she’s helped accomplish this year as a key part in two major organizations.

A 21-year-old exercise science major from Pinehurst, North Carolina, Lauren never imagined herself ending up in the city of Charlotte. Taking notice of the school’s potential for growth, she declined five other large universities to come to UNC Charlotte and never looked back. Shortly after starting school, she accepted a bid from Zeta Tau Alpha and moved into the organization’s house two weeks later.

“I always felt a pull to become more involved and step up as a leader,” Lauren said when describing the journey that led her to be elected as the chapter’s president at the beginning of this year. Her number one priority is making sure that all 160 members feel a connection with ZTA, whether she’s providing a shoulder to cry on or helping plan the sorority’s annual philanthropy event, Big Man on Campus. Proceeds from this event, as well as others held throughout the year, support the organization’s national philanthropy: breast cancer education and awareness.

When Lauren isn’t passing out pink ribbons, she’s helping her family in its efforts to support The Izzy Foundation in memory of her cousin, Izzy Wohlrab. “Cancer itself is held near to my heart as it affects so many people in so many ways,” Lauren said. “Izzy was diagnosed at the age of 13 months with a very rare muscle cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma...other than her shiny bald head, you would have no idea that Izzy had cancer from the way she acted.”

In March of 2012, Izzy lost her battle with cancer but not until after spreading her warmth and joy to touch those across the nation. The Izzy Foundation has channeled her inspirational energy to continue raising money for children with debilitating diseases. 

“From the handicap-accessible playground in Pinehurst, North Carolina, to awarding children who’ve been affected by cancer scholarships, and even having an entire “Izzy Room” in Hasbro Children’s Hospital...we are continuing to grow.”

Each year, Lauren’s family organizes the Izzy Gala, the foundation’s largest fundraiser, held in Providence, RI. Proceeds from the gala and other events throughout the year make amazing things like these possible. Lauren even plays her own part here in Charlotte with the support of her chapter. 

“I love bringing the two together to see how we can help the foundation. For the past two years, we have been able to raise money from each sister to be able to host a meal in the Izzy Room. We are hoping to host a family for Christmas this year to provide them with presents they deserve. I have also passed out many of our “We are IZspired” bracelets for sisters to wear.”

The Izzy Family Room at Hasbro Children's Hospital

After hearing all of this I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing I was: how does she do it all? When I asked her the pressing question, I was reminded why I was driven to interview her in the first place. Lauren’s motivation isn’t reliant on coffee and "all-nighters", it’s straight from the heart. 

“I have been able to grow so much as a person through seeing Izzy’s treatments and learning from her how to live a better, more fulfilling life. It has also directly impacted my role in my sorority as the president. I make sure to remember that even through the tough times in school and being overwhelmed with ZTA, that I am so grateful for simply being healthy.”