Grand Valley students raise money for Make-A-Wish

Ellie Phillips

Over the course of three weeks, students at Grand Valley State University organized and implemented five different events to raise nearly $2,400 for the Make-A-Wish Michigan organization last April.

The class, Introduction to Meeting and Event Management, was taught by Patricia Janes, professor of hospitality and tourism management, and had 24 students who worked in teams to coordinate the events.

“Make-A-Wish Michigan really embodies everything we try to do in the hospitality industry,” Janes said. “(To) make a difference in people’s lives through a variety of hospitality, tourism, recreation and event experiences.”

Janes allowed her five teams of students to create their events from start to finish, with course objectives that included demonstrating skill in all event elements, and applying those skills in real-life situations.

“I can think of no better way to learn the event industry than to plan one from start to finish – on their own (but) under our guidance,” she said. “(The students) can then apply the theoretical elements of event planning in a real setting and learn firsthand of the challenges in planning and implementing events.”

The events created were “Rock for Wishes,” a battle of the bands competition at the B.O.B. in Grand Rapids; a “Girl’s Night Out” party held at an Allendale apartment; “Bowl for Wishes,” a bowling event held at Lincoln Lanes; and two sports events: the “Dodge for a Cause,” dodgeball tournament and the “Make-A-Wish Madness,” basketball tournament.

The students who planned the events included fundraisers like raffles, auctions, donation pages or by charging admission.

Britany Brasseur worked on the Rock for Wishes event and said her group chose it because they thought music was something everyone was interested in and could get involved with. The event had some surprise appearances by Make-A-Wish recipients, as well.

“The most memorable part of the event was at the front door, we had a woman stop into the B.O.B on accident,” Brasseur said. “She happened to have a niece who was just about to get her wish granted. Also, we had a band member from the Priorities that had a little brother who had been a wish child. The way our event related to our guests was unexpected but made our event hit closer to home and more personal.”

Catherine Hatfield worked on the basketball tournament by coordinating and communicating with the team members and venue. Though the weather on the day of the tournament wasn’t ideal, Hatfield still felt the event was a success.

“Our basketball theme ran parallel with the final games of March Madness and worked well with gaining students’ interest,” she said. “I was happy to contribute to Make-A-Wish Michigan while raising awareness around campus in a fun way. Putting the event together and getting all the final details ironed out is always a great relief and I loved seeing the final product.”

Kate Schick was part of the group who held the dodgeball tournament, which encouraged participants to “have a ball and grant a wish.”

“I learned that the smallest efforts can make the largest impact,” Schick said. “In a month, our groups were able to produce events that helped raise a significant amount of money for Make-A-Wish and hopefully change a life.”