Next Tuesday, Dec. 3, there is a very special event taking place in the Grand Valley State University fieldhouse. The second annual Rally with the Rapids basketball game will take place to raise money for the Special Olympics. The event will serve as a chance for the GVSU community to support athletes whom may not get the opportunities or recognition they deserve.
The event is completely student-run and is the second chance for GVSU students to host the game, with students in Professor Jon Coles’ sports facility and event management class taking the lead. Throughout this semester, Coles’ students have been working vigorously contacting businesses and putting the event together.
The Rally with the Rapids game gives his students an opportunity to gain real world experience in sports management and to host a sporting event. The students have used their skills in management, promotions, staffing, budgeting, and media relations.
Last year was the first year Coles assigned this project to his students and it was a huge success. The fieldhouse was filled with GVSU students supporting these athletes and the class raised $3,262.79 going towards Area 5 and 12 Special Olympics.
“Last year’s event was a home run,” Coles said. “It exceeded my expectations, the class provided an amazing experience for the Special Olympians which will always be our primary goal.”
This year however, Coles and his students want to improve the event even more. His class changed their blueprint for planning the event and Coles is confident his students can make it bigger and better.
The class wants a bigger crowd for these amazing athletes and have a goal to raise $5,000 this year. They also have more giveaways this year such as free Bigby coffee, Grand Rapids Drive tickets, and raffling off GVSU gear and apparel. Brian Gubbini is the sponsorship director this year for the event. He and his fellow classmates have been in contact with many local businesses to partner with the class for the game with financial support for management and the Special Olympics.
“We’ve reached out to around 100 businesses in the local Allendale and GR area,” Gubbini said. “Our main sponsors are Oasis Hot Tubs, Grand Coney, Dominos, Campus West apartment complex, and Lake Michigan Nutrition.”
This year many of the same players will return to play again. A team from the GVSU area will compete against a team from the Ferris State area. Many of the people involved in the event love being able to support these athletes and is a big chance for the community to show support.
“The best part of the event is to actually see these athletes play and realize how much they love the game they are playing, to them it’s not about the score as much as it is about having the ability to play the game,” said promotions head Dyllon Hoover. “That’s something that a lot of people have never experienced and is incredible to watch live.”
While the students have been planning the event, they’ve received nothing but appreciation from donors, partners and the athletes themselves. The Special Olympics and this particular event alike mean so much to the athletes and the community, and shows how much sports can bring people together.
“This event is a chance for the whole community to get involved and support our fellow Special Olympians,” Hoover said. “It provides us with an opportunity to rally around athletes who might not normally get the kind of praise a college athlete would, but they are just as deserving.”
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This is the Special Olympics oath and is the essence of Rally with the Rapids. This basketball game allows athletes to compete in the sport they love and these students have provided them a perfect opportunity for it. This event will be bigger and more special for everyone involved. Everyone in the community is encouraged to come to this spectacular event and support the players.
The GVSU students appreciate every business and sponsor that has helped make this event happen. On Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena will be filled with cheers, smiles and support for the community and Special Olympics.