ROCK HILL, S.C. - The South Atlantic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee raised a conference-record $20,454.35 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation during the 2010-11 academic year, and Newberry College was recognized as the conference's top fundraiser.
The announcement was made at the annual SAAC meeting held recently at Mars Hill College.
Thirty student-athletes and advisors from the 10 member institutions attended the meeting. Kim Johnson, an author and motivational speaker, was the featured presenter at the meeting.
The money raised for Make-A-Wish more than doubled last year's total of $6,834. In 2008-09, the conference SAAC raised $3,978, a figure surpassed by two schools this past year. The league raised $1,507 in 2007-08.
“The past three years, the South Atlantic Conference has put a huge emphasis on the importance of the SAAC and this emphasis has paid off,” said Jennifer Williams, SAAC advisor at Mars Hill College and co-chair of the conference SAAC advisors. “It has given our student-athletes a voice and they feel included and important. The most impressive thing the campus SAAC's have accomplished is the dramatic improvement in Make-A-Wish fundraising. To go from $1,000 raised to nearly $21,000 in three years is just impressive. By making the student-athletes feel important, the SAC has inspired this group of young people to make an impact on other people's lives.”
“I am extremely proud of these young men and women,” said Commissioner, Patrick Britz. “Every one of our campus SAAC's contributed to this record-breaking fundraising effort and the conference is thrilled to be able to help such a worthy charity. Our conference SAAC has come a long way in three years and credit should be given to Assistant Commissioner, Eliane Kebbe, as well as the SAAC advisors on our individual campuses.”
Make-A-Wish is the official charity of the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Since 2004, Division II student-athletes have raised more than 1.5 million dollars for the national Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Newberry College led the way by raising $4,685.38. The school was presented a plaque recognizing Newberry as the 2010-11 fundraising champion. Another plaque lists the yearly winners and will be rotated among the winning schools.
“The competition was only a small incentive to fundraise money for a great cause,” said Newberry women's basketball player Helen McKinney, and chair of the Newberry campus SAAC. “There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you made a difference in another's life. If everyone makes a small contribution to Make-A-Wish, it is possible to grant those wishes and make a big difference.”
Added Newberry advisor Robin Muller: “I am pleased that Newberry College is the recipient of the first Make-A-Wish fundraising award presented by the South Atlantic Conference. As athletes, around the conference, took on this competition in the same manner they compete on the field and courts, they were able to significantly impact the contribution from the SAC to a worthy cause.
“The buy-in from the athletes at Newberry was tremendous to witness. When the quarterback of the football team is asking for donations at the Spring Game, volumes are spoken as to the total involvement of athletes at Newberry. I need to give all the credit to the members and leadership of the Student Athlete Advisory Council. They directly involved their teams in this worth-while endeavor.”
During the meeting, student-athletes were able to discuss issues related to regular season and tournament competition, the NCAA and the SAC in general with conference representatives.
Johnson delivered a powerful message to the student-athletes, focusing on topics such as centering yourself for success and how to stay motivated.
“The in person meeting of the campus SAAC representatives has been a huge success. This is the one place the athletes aren't competing, they are learning from each other. The idea sharing and encouragement that goes on in these meetings has been impressive,” said Williams. “The conference office outdid themselves this year by bringing in Kim Johnson to speak. She captured all of our attention from the moment she started talking and left the group ready to take on any challenge that came their way. Ms. Johnson has overcome huge obstacles in her life to become the powerful women she is today. Her story is motivating and I feel confident saying that she left a lasting impression on the entire group.”