EMU Student-Athletes Continue to Give Back
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — Throughout the 2013-14 academic year, student-athletes from each of Eastern Michigan University’s 21 varsity programs took time out of their academic and athletic schedules to help out around the Ypsilanti community. With emphasis on giving back to our local and campus communities, the student-athletes collectively participated in approximately 2,000 volunteer hours.
“Engaging with our community is an ongoing focus for our Department of Athletics, coaches and student-athletes,” added EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke. “Our student-athletes have risen to the occasion by participating in many events this year. We are particularly grateful to the 2nd & 7 Foundation for the books they provided us that we were able to give to 2nd graders throughout the Ypsilanti schools. There is no greater lesson our student-athlete learn than the importance of giving back to others. And there is no greater moment than watching the joy on a child’s face when they are impacted by our student-athletes.”
One of the most prevalent initiatives created during the year was the 2nd & 7 Foundation. The program started in 1999 by Luke Fickell, Ryan Miller, and Mike Vrable, who are three former Ohio State University student-athletes. The trio instilled the importance of community outreach while playing football and continues to pay it forward through the foundation’s “Tackling Illiteracy” program. During EMU’s new initiative, more than 200 student-athletes visited 24 total second grade classrooms between six different Ypsilanti elementary schools. The 2nd & 7 Foundation writes and publishes a new book every year, and 700 second grade students were given donated books as a part of the program to tackle illiteracy.
In addition to Eastern’s efforts in elementary literacy, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) raised $950 for the Ypsilanti Community Schools Foundation by hosting the annual Jock Jamz, a student-athlete talent show. S.A.A.C. also spearheaded an effort to support the Angel Tree Program with the local Salvation Army.
Student-athletes from each varsity program also devoted time to help the community as a team. Most recently, the football team participated in the first annual EMU Victory Day on June 27. The coaches and student-athletes hosted 22 cognitively and physically impaired children at Rynearson Stadium, who participated in football-related activities and were presented with a medal at the end of the day. The women’s gymnastics team went out into the community during a “Get Off Your Glass” outreach, during which time they cleaned up the school playgrounds and parks and spent time marking drains on campus to assist with storm water management. More community interaction was done by the women’s basketball team when the squad went to the Glacier Hills Retirement Home and participated in EMU’s Autism Collaborative Center Family Fun Night. For Valentine’s Day, members of the softball and women’s golf teams went to the Ann Arbor VA Hospital to personally deliver cards to patients.
Teams also participated in fundraising and collection throughout the year. On Sept. 22, the women’s soccer team raised over $5,000 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition when it recognized its match as Cancer Awareness Day. The women’s swimming program made and donated blankets to children at Mott Hospital, and the EMU wrestling team purchased supplies and ingredients to serve approximately 40 people at the Ronald McDonald House in Ann Arbor.
The Athletics Department also joined up with the University on May 10 for the American Heart Association Heart Walk, in which over 4,000 participants walked five kilometers to raise money and awareness for heart disease. Overall, EMU raised $33,000 for the Heart Association, surpassing its original participation and fundraising goals.