By Brian Lovellette
Sports Information Director, St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC)
Goodwill and Wellness Committee Member
As a professional who works in athletics, we get to see how individuals work together as a team every day to reach their goals. This is no different for those involved with CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee and the CoSIDA Cares campaign. At this year's CoSIDA Convention in Dallas the efforts of the Goodwill and Wellness Committee led to record success.
Each year at the CoSIDA Convention the Goodwill and Wellness Committee hosts a fundraising and community service project for a designated charity. The goal is to further the belief in our need to maintain our health, overall wellness, and community. We believe that improving ourselves, both physically and mentally, translates into success professionally. We strive to reach these goals through both exercise and being involved in our communities.
For the sixth consecutive year the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee put together a 5K run/walk; open for anyone attending the convention. This year, in Dallas, we had a record number of participants, with over 200 individuals from across all divisions of college athletics taking part in the race; with an additional 117 members from NACDA joining in the race. A big thank you goes out to the CoSIDA Board members which participated in the event as well.
"It was a record year for the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee," said Washington University in St. Louis Assistant AD for Communications and Goodwill and Wellness Committee Chair Chris Mitchell. "The efforts by our committee went noticed as we had our biggest turnout for the 5K and Community Service Project."
A special congratulation for those runners who finished in the top five of their race groups. From the female participants; top finisher Rachel Moring (21:08) from Colorado State University-Pueblo, Anne Threlkeld (Ole Miss), Fowler Staines (Ole Miss), Alie Hock (Mandtvr) and Samantha Warner (California-Irvine).
From the male division, top finisher Scott Wandzilak (17:15) from the University of Southern California, Brad Wall (Big Sky Conference), Jeremy Rosenthal (Indiana), Calhoun Hipp (Southland Conference) and Travis Epling (Georgia). We would like to thank the Dallas Mavericks for providing gifts to the winners and Proforma Sports for supplying t-shirts to all race participants.
With a record number of runners, it was no surprise that the event also raised a record amount of money, over $4,000 for this year's charity; Keeper of the Game. Keeper of the Game is a non-profit organization that provides unique baseball experiences to kids and young adults with special needs and disabilities.
Following the 5K race/walk volunteers boarded a bus for the service project, partnering with Keeper of the Game for a day of unforgettable baseball fun. For the first time in eight years we "sold-out" our community service project, with 50 Sports Information Directors pre-registering for the project. For the remainder of the morning volunteers from the Keeper of the Game and CoSIDA members joined area children from the Miracle League; playing catch, hitting baseballs, and various other baseball related activities. Members and the children then met up for an afternoon of baseball, taking in the Frisco RoughRiders game (a minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers).
"CoSIDA has a special place in my heart for sure. I worked seven years in the American Southwest Conference and our founder James Vlabe actually started his career out doing SID work," said Greg Weghorst, Vice President of Communications for Keeper of the Game. "When CoSIDA came to use for this event, we were so grateful and honored. And we are excited as this will be our largest fundraiser we have to date."
The giving back did not end there, as Young CoSIDA (YC) held its annual Charity Social to raise additional money for Keeper of the Game. One of the highlights of CoSIDA convention week, the YC Charity Social annually raises money for charity through its live auction and raffle. Powered by partnerships with Presto Sports as presenting sponsor and Connor Sports as transportation sponsor, YC raised an additional $4,676 at Front Door Dallas, bringing the total fundraising efforts on the day to more than $9,000 for Keeper of the Game. In eight years, YC has raised more than $22,000 for six different charities in six different cities.
However, the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee is not just a one-day event. We have also established a Volunteer 15 program which honors SID's that accumulate at least 15 hours of community service during the school year. CoSIDA members who reached the 15-hour community service mark were honored at the CoSIDA Special Awards luncheon along with a short video presentation highlighting the 2016 community service project with the Keeper of the Game.
"On behalf of the CoSIDA Board and leadership, I want to salute all CoSIDA members who participate in our Volunteer 15 program and who invest time in volunteer and community efforts. We are pleased to recognize our members who are giving back and making a difference in their communities, and I encourage everyone who is doing volunteer work to submit their information and become a member of our Volunteer 15 program. The "15" stands for 15 hours of dedicated service that you've given in a year, and we know so many of you are doing that and more. Please let us recognize your efforts! Thanks to the Goodwill and Wellness Committee for setting up this initiative."
Just like bettering yourself personally, giving back is not a one-day fix but a year round dedication. If you would like to participate in the CoSIDA Volunteer 15 program please contact Chris Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in learning more about the Keeper of the Game you can click HERE
Among those participating from the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference were Conference Sports Information Director Brian Lovellette, Principia College SID Heather Fairbanks, Spalding University SID Brian Clinard, and representatives from Eureka College and Westminster College.