Grand Valley State student athletes found time off the field and outside the classroom to give back to the community, raising $7,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation during the 2015-16 school year.
The fundraising was organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is an organization comprised of student-athletes from all varsity teams at GVSU. The committee’s purpose is to inform all student-athletes on what is happening in the athletic department, discuss campus-wide issues that affect student-athletes, as well as raising money for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee partnered with the Make-A-Wish foundation in 2003 and has since become one of the foundation’s largest and most consistent contributors. Since the partnership in 2003, all Division II schools have combined to raise more than $4 million and granted more than 500 “wishes” for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
GVSU’s Athletics Director Keri Becker praised her student athletes for finding time in their busy schedule to help give back to an important cause.
“It’s a great feeling knowing we have so many giving and supportive student-athletes here at GVSU,” Becker said. “It speaks to how our athletes want to do something beyond themselves. To carve out even more time from athletics, they use their platform as athletes to accomplish something important besides the ‘X and Os.’
“It must come from their competitive juices.”
SAAC president and women’s lacrosse student-athlete Kira Dosenberry has been overwhelmed with the support and engagement of her fellow student-athletes in the fundraising efforts.
“In past years, it has been hard to get contribution from other athletes, but the amount of support we’ve gotten recently has been something special,” Dosenberry said. “As athletes, we get the stereotype that we’re just ‘jocks,’ but this donation just shows that we have a group that cares strongly about this community.”
Each GVSU varsity team is responsible for raising money for the foundation, and there’s no shortage in participation by the teams. Some of the events include hosting 50/50 raffles during sporting events, the track and field team hosting an annual car wash, holiday oriented “candy grams” organized by the SAAC, and selling outdated team spirit wear.
In effort to raise student-athlete participation, each coach has a penny jar in their office for athletes to donate change to the foundation. The coach with the most pennies by the end of the year gets “pied” in the face by the team’s student-athletes.
“It’s a way that we try to make fundraising even more fun,” Dosenberry said.
Associate athletics director and current SAAC adviser Erika Wallace said the act of giving back is a lesson that will last forever.
“My favorite part is getting to know the student athletes and seeing them work together for a great cause,” Wallace said. “We hope they can learn this love of giving back and carry it with them long after they leave GV and continue to give back, benefiting their personal and professional lives for years to come.”
Although the SAAC has been pleased with the amount raised the past year, they look to not hit, but surpass its goal of $10,000 raised for 2016-17 school year.
“So far at Grand Valley, none of the SAAC committees have raised over $10,000, and since day one as president I have made sure that we do everything in our power to exceed that goal,” Dosenberry said. “It’s not a want, but a need to meet this goal. That $10,000 can make so many wishes come true.”
The SAAC has planned future events this year, including a talent show and dodgeball tournament that will take place during the second semester.