GVSU works toward all-time fundraising high in Battle of the Valleys

Paul BeaLafeld sells Battle of the Valleys shirts in Kirkhof

Eric Coulter

Paul BeaLafeld sells Battle of the Valleys shirts in Kirkhof

Emanuel Johnson

Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate will attempt to reclaim the crown in this year’s Battle of the Valleys competition with a school-high goal of raising $35,000.

The annual charity competition puts GVSU and Saginaw Valley State University head to head in a race to raise the most money for the charity of their choice in the week prior to the football match-up between the two schools.

The Student Senate chose the Student Advancement Foundation to benefit from year’s effort. Founded in 2003, SAF redirects funds to ensure Grand Rapids students have the tools to learn.

Student Senate President Jarrett Martus said SAF appealed to the senators because of its focus on healthy lifestyle.

“We always try to get a charity in West Michigan, and something that benefits children,” he said. “One of (SAF’s) main focuses is health and wellness, and we thought that would be beneficial to the community. Health is always a top priority these days.”

To reach the $35,000 goal, the Student Senate will put on a variety of events this week, sell BOTV T-shirts and accept donations in the Student Senate office and by credit card online at www.gvsu.edu/battleofthevalleys. The fundraising competition ends at midnight Friday.

SAF Executive Director Susan Heartwell said the funds collected in this year’s competition will help to purchase supplies for physical education classes and classes dealing in the arts in the school district’s 32 elementary, middle and high schools.

“We could provide physical education equipment – balls, jump ropes – for every school in the district, and we could also fund art supplies at the level that we are hoping to fund for the entire year,” she said.

Heartwell said with $35,000, SAF could split the money between physical education and the arts to fulfill the Grand Rapids school district’s needs.

“Pretty much half of that would be used for art supplies and half for physical wellness,” she said. “It would provide 19,500 students with what they need for physical education and art. These are things that are not mandated for the schools to provide, and all of the schools need new physical education equipment.”

BOTV events began with “The Largest Game of Simon Says Grand Valley Has Ever Seen” on Sunday in the Fieldhouse Arena. On Wednesday GVSU held a musical improvisation, “Baby Wants Candy,” in the Kirkhof Center.

To cap the week-long competition, Student Senate will host a SVSU carpool and tailgate Saturday. Students can split gas money for travel to and from SVSU for the football game. Carpoolers will meet in the parking lot of the Kirkhof Center at 7 a.m., and tailgating will begin in SVSU’s Lot C at 10 a.m.

Martus said finding interactive opportunities is important to the school’s success in BOTV.

“We always look for events to be something interactive for the student body,” he said. “We don’t want to just ask everybody for money – we want them to be able to purchase a thing or do something for it.”

While GVSU has won all but two of the football games between the two schools since the competition began in 2003, the school has had a rougher road in the charity competition. GVSU has won BOTV three times, most recently 2006 when the Lakers edged out the Cardinals $19,337 to $19,160 – a difference of only $177.

Since then, the Cardinals have won each competition by an overwhelming margin. In 2008, SVSU raised $47,278 – a BOTV high – for Habitat for Humanity while GVSU managed $28,002.27 for Campfire USA.

SVSU currently leads GVSU 4-3 in the competition.

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