NCAA Division II sets new record for Make-A-Wish® fundraising

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Led by the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Division II schools across the country raised $517,465 for Make-A-Wish during the 2012-13 school year, besting last year’s efforts by almost $50,000 and setting a new Division II fundraising record.

Last January, King University held their own Make-A-Wish event when they hosted Conference Carolinas rival Limestone College. For the first time King sponsored a specific Wish Child. In prior years, the money that King raised was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but last year King “adopted” Kellan, a five-year old from the Tri-Cities Area.

Kellan’s wish was to attend one of the family-friendly Disney theme parks. At the game, SAAC announced that the amount raised to help Kellan’s wish come true was $2,231.

Since beginning its alliance with Make-A-Wish in 2003, Division II has raised more than $3 million toward granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. These wishes can serve as a game changer in children’s fights against their illnesses, helping them feel better, and in some cases even get better.

“The strength and determination that these children possess is something that can only be attained by going through the challenges they face,” said Bradley Maldonado, Lincoln Memorial University cross country student-athlete and chair of Division II SAAC. “It’s inspiring and gives us a greater appreciation of life. Personally, it makes me work harder in everything I do.”

Last year, more than 80 percent of the DII member schools participated in raising money for Make-A-Wish. More than 240 schools from all 24 Division II conferences participated, including 100 percent participation from five conferences: the East Coast Conference, Gulf South Conference, Heartland Conference, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and South Atlantic Conference.

“We are tremendously proud of our student-athletes for their dedication and commitment to this alliance,” said Terri Steeb-Gronau, vice president of Division II. “Our relationship with Make-A-Wish started as a grass-roots fundraising effort by SAAC and has far exceeded our wildest expectations, and I’m confident that we’ll continue to see great things from our DII student-athletes. Thank you to our student-athletes, schools and conferences for their continued efforts.”

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference led the way in fundraising during the 2012-13 academic year, with $42,100, closely followed by the Pacific West Conference with $40,267 and the Northeast-10 Conference with $34,088. This marked the first time two conferences raised more than $40,000 each.

“For two years in a row the PSAC has been the highest fundraising conference, and I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished,” said Brynn Seidenstricker, Shippensburg University field hockey student-athlete and member of national Division II SAAC. “I think we all have a story to tell regarding our Make-A-Wish efforts, but I'm just happy to be a part of something much bigger than just competing in our respective sports.”

At the school level, Molloy College led all Division II members with $12,181 raised, followed by University of North Georgia with $11,223 and Barry University with $10,181.

“Molloy College really promotes the idea of engagement in the community and the athletic department follows suit,” said John Galanoudis, Molloy College baseball student-athlete and member of Division II SAAC.  “We, as a whole, are incredibly honored to be making a difference in the lives of people who are appreciative of our support.”

New Make-A-Wish Fundraising Incentives for 2013-14

For the upcoming 2013-14 year, Make-A-Wish is adding a new element to Division II’s fundraising efforts: a matching incentive. Every dollar that a Division II school raises beyond last year’s total will be matched, up to $1,000 per school.

To kick off fundraising for the 2013-14 academic school year, Division II will be holding its third annual Week of Wishes, starting Oct. 4 and continuing until Oct. 15. The Week of Wishes event is an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish, and the courageous kids they serve.

“Being able to give back to the community that supports us is a big part of what it means to be a Division II student-athlete,” said Maldonado. “Devoting our time to a cause that makes such a difference in the lives of others is an example of what we train to do every day, and Make-A-Wish is the perfect organization through which the power of the student-athletes to make a difference can be shown.”