For the third year in a row, Grand Valley State University hit the mark of raising $10,000, earning them the opportunity to host a Make-A-Wish reveal through the partnership that Make-A-Wish has with the NCAA Division II.
This fundraising effort is led by GVSU’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) under Walter Moore, Associate Athletic Director for Student Athlete Welfare & Development. SAAC is an organization on campus for student athletes that oversees opportunities for athletes to get involved in for different fundraising efforts such as Make-A-Wish and bridge student-athletes to administration.
The fundraising efforts done by SAAC in previous years included events such as a cornhole tournament, raffle tickets, an “anchor award” ceremony and more that fund their goal of $10,000 to have Make-A-Wish reveal. Notably, of all the schools in Division II who participated, GVSU was able to earn the third most in the country. The reveal — although unknown as of now due to COVID-19—will allow GVSU to host a wish reveal party for a child that is getting their wish granted through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Past reveals that GVSU has hosted for Make-A-Wish were was right on campus at Lubbers Stadium. SAAC members were able to help grant a Michigan child, Alex, her wish for a trip to Disney World. Student athletes were able to interact with the family before the reveal and meet the child that they had been fundraising for over the past year.
With the opportunity of seeing the reveal live, Moore said he saw up close and personal how special Make-A-Wish is.
“Kids are so resilient, and they don’t know that they’re sick when they are sick,” Moore said. “When they are going to Disney or get to do something special that they really love doing, and you get to see them light up like that, you know it was worth it. That’s where our kids got that bug for this program.”
Moore said the Make-A-Wish program also helps student athletes. He said it teaches those involved with helping the fundraising effort about supporting their communities as students of influence.
“It gives our student-athletes the opportunity to see the importance of community engagement and giving back,” Moore said. “Our student-athletes are so blessed with having the athletic ability, good health, and are good students. They are winning in all avenues, but this gives them an opportunity to do something for someone who is a little less fortunate and understand the importance of being able to do that.”
Hannah Beatus, SAAC President and pitcher for the GVSU Women’s Softball team, was thankful that COVID-19 didn’t affect their fundraising as much as it could have this year.
“We were actually really fortunate; when we hit March of this year, we were already almost at our goal,” Beatus said. “We really try to make an effort early on to make sure our initiative is known and provide enough opportunities for the community and the student athletes to collect money.”
Although they were shut down, their ability to get ahead allowed them not to see as much of an impact from the virus, although they were still having to miss out on some events for the remainder of the school year that spring, and were still able to hit their goal.
Beatus echoed Moore on the impact it had personally when seeing the wish revealed live.
“Just being able to bring those children on campus and see the actual impact that our fundraising efforts are making, it’s different than just reading something,” Beatus said. “When you are able to psychically see it happen and see the emotion on the family’s faces, or how excited the child is, I think that is the coolest impact of fundraising, and it’s what keeps us motivated and realizing that we are actually making a difference.”
Derrick Egli, SAAC Vice President and member of the Cross Country & Track & Field teams at GVSU, discussed the culmination of finally seeing the reveal and how special it is.
“It all comes together when it comes to the reveal,” Egli said. “The whole time when you are working you only get to see pictures of the child that you are working for and helping achieve their goal. When you get to the reveal itself, it’s one of those moments you really can’t beat especially watching it live.”
As of now, SAAC is working on hitting their goal once again for a Make-A-Wish reveal next year; although hindered by COVID-19 and having to be completely virtual, they are hoping they can once again hit the mark of $10,000.
If you would like to donate to the fundraising efforts of SAAC, you can donate here where they appreciate all donations towards making another child’s wish come true.