Today: Apr 21, 2024

Southern athletics raises money for Make-A-Wish

Elizabeth DishianStaff Writer

When someone sees a child finally get a wish that they made through the Make-A-Wish foundation, it changes the way people view the charity, according to Joe Hines, assistant coordinator of Athletic Facilities.

“Maybe a kid has a wish to come sit on the bench for a game at Southern. When people actually see it as opposed to reading about it, I think it’s more impactful,” he said.

The Make-A-Wish foundation has been partnered with National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 2 since 2003, according to fliers given out to athletes at Southern.

The Athletic Department’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee, SAAC, is the backbone to raising money for the foundation.

“As SAAC president,” Elaina Heiple said, senior and women’s lacrosse captain, “I basically get ideas from the Northeast 10 (NE-10) Conferences that I attend to raise money and try to bring them back to Southern in order to maximize fundraising efforts.”

The women’s lacrosse team hosts fundraisers at the men’s and women’s basketball games during halftime, according to Rebecca Jennings, sophomore and member of the women’s lacrosse team. The team walks around the stands and asks fans if they want to donate money to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

“It’s for such a good cause and it’s important that each kid who is diagnosed with cancer gets a fighting chance,” Jennings said. “Plus, it’s a super easy way to get donations.”

Heiple said at bigger events the team will also set up tables near the entrances to the stands so fans can stop and get an event program while also asking for any donations for the foundation.

“I’ve tried to include everyone on my own team as well as others as far as getting involved,” Heiple said. “We ask the younger players to take shifts walking around asking for donation, so hopefully they will get used to it and continue those efforts throughout their time at Southern.”

Southern does not charge fans for any regular season games except for football; football games charge $5 a person Hines said.

“Even though you’re going to come to the game anyway to see your daughter or son play, we don’t charge for regular season games,” he said. “For us to ask fans for money on multiply occasions for this foundation, it’s not a negative.”

According to Hines, in the time frame Southern has been involved with raising money for the Make-A-Wish foundation, the NE-10 Conference has raised the most money out of any other conference every year.

“The committee for Make-a-Wish is throughout the department,” Hines said. “From the top all the way down. It trickles all the way down to the players too. Coaches are aware that it is our main charity. We do other things, but this is our main one.”

SAAC tries its best to get all the teams in the department involved equally, but more often than not, the women’s field hockey and lacrosse teams seem to always be the most active and have the athletes willing to step up, said Hines.

“It’s greatly appreciated,” he said.

One year the women’s lacrosse team sold stars that people could sign their name on and then the stars were hung up all over Moore Field House. Students could see that the people really cared, according to Lauren Tamborino, assistant field hockey and women’s lacrosse coach.

“I feel proud that the lacrosse team has contributed so much to fundraising for Make-a-Wish,” Heiple said. “The team as well as the other teams are involved in so many different charities and community service events. It’s nice to see that our work has paid off and is contributing to such a great cause.”

Jennings said if more teams helped out and got involved with the fundraising, then the athletic department could raise even more money for the foundation.

“I’m sure there are more things we could do,” Hines said. “But the thing is we ask an awful lot of our student athletes. Not just to perform for us as athletes but students too. We do a lot of other community service events. In my opinion we ask an awful lot of them and they always come through for us.”

One new thing being done this year for the Make-A-Wish foundation is a week of wishes. Originally, Southern’s week was Feb. 18 to Feb. 26, but Southern has extended their week for as long as the basketball conference championship is going on, according to Hines.

“At NE-10 conference games we sell game programs for $1 and the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish as well,” Hines said.

Over the past four years Southern has had a constant goal to raise at least $750 each year said Hines. $500, $1,000, $1,500 – the results sometimes vary between years.

“That’s a number that we’ve seen as an achievable goal,” he said. “Sometimes we go higher or lower. Obviously we want to get more, but we want to stay grounded.”

When the economy changed, Hines said people changed the amounts of money they would donate. The athletic department found that they would get more nickels, dimes and pennies.

“I believe that’s leveled out a little more recently, but it all adds up sooner or later,” Hines said. “We’ll take any donation.”

Paige Donlin, junior and field hockey captain agreed that donating and helping to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation is a great thing for athletes and students to do.

“I think it’s good to give back and help others out,” Donlin said. “You know everything you do for the charity is beneficial for someone so it feels great to be able to help.”

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