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NCAA Division II reaches milestone in fundraising for Make-A-Wish

Division II schools, led by the Division II Student Athlete Advisory Committee, raised more than $605,000 for Make-A-Wish during the 2014-15 academic year – the first time the division has surpassed $600,000. The amount raised sets a new Division II fundraising record, exceeding last year’s efforts by $37,000.

Twelve years ago, Division II began its alliance with Make-A-Wish, and since then it has raised nearly $4.1 million. That money has been used to grant wishes to more than 530 kids across the country with life-threatening medical conditions. According to a 2011 Wish Impact Study, the wishes can impact children’s fights against their illnesses, helping them feel better and, in some cases, get better.

“Being a Division II student-athlete is about balance,” said Roberto “Bubba” Baroniel, a student-athlete at Nova Southeastern University and chair of Division II SAAC. “We feel as if it is part of the student-athlete experience to understand the concept of giving back and supporting our community. Working with an organization like Make-A-Wish really helps drive home the point that we are in a position to motivate others to come together as a community and change lives.”

More than 76 percent of Division II schools, including those in the process of gaining full membership, participated in raising money for Make-A-Wish. More than 240 schools from all 24 Division II conferences participated, including 100 percent participation from six conferences: the Conference Carolinas, East Coast Conference, Great Lakes Valley Conference, Heartland Conference, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and South Atlantic Conference.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference led the way in fundraising during the 2014-15 academic year ($53,494), followed by the Peach Belt Conference ($40,313) and the Northeast-10 Conference ($32,912).

“I know how hard the schools in our conference work to raise funds for Make-A-Wish, and we are always striving to be the best we can be with our fundraising efforts,” said Christopher Pike, who plays football at Gannon University and vice chair of Division II SAAC. “We take great pride in these fundraising efforts and to see the PSAC at the top is extremely rewarding for all of our schools and student-athletes.”

The East Coast Conference office raised $7,495, marking the first time a conference office has surpassed $7,000.

The alliance with Make-A-Wish also provides student-athletes with the opportunity to host a wish reveal, which is a celebration when a child learns that his or her one true wish will be granted. Each year, schools and conferences that raise the average cost of a wish will host a wish reveal. Because of the tremendous fundraising numbers across the division, in 2014-15 37 schools and one conference earned the opportunity to host a future wish reveal at a conference or campus event.

“The best part about a wish reveal is seeing the smile on a wish kid’s face and knowing that through athletics we were able to positively impact his or her life,” Pike said. “The pure happiness and joy that is represented in that moment is like nothing else.”

Top fundraising schools:

1. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania $13,665.11
2. Molloy College $13,154.25
3. Dixie State University $12,670
4. Lubbock Christian University $11,615.87
5. University of North Georgia $11,102
6. Saint Leo University $10,084
7. University of California, San Diego $9,593.54
8. Missouri University of Science and Technology $9,006
9. Delta State University $8,473.50
10. Georgia College and State University $8,122.22
11. Dominican University of California $8,080.10
12. Arkansas Tech University $8,019.17
13. Pittsburg State University $7,556.56
14. Barry University $7,055
15. Grand Valley State University $7,000
16. Flagler College $6,815
17. Union University $6,388
18. Texas A&M University-Commerce $6,318.57
19. Northwestern Oklahoma State University $6,120
20. Lindenwood University $6,002

Conference Rankings:

1. Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference $53,493.51
2. Peach Belt Conference $40,312.95
3. Pacific West Conference $32,911.57
4. Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference $30,117.10
5. East Coast Conference $28,131.59
6. Gulf South Conference $27,015.21
7. Great Lakes Valley Conference $26,480.60
8. California Collegiate Athletic Association $24,699.22
9. Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association $24,498.91
10. South Atlantic Conference $24,089.79
11. Sunshine State Conference $23,563.48
12. Heartland Conference $19,598.91
13. Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference $19,153.94
14. Great American Conference $18,801.43
15. Northeast-10 Conference $18,073.37
16. Lone Star Conference $17,243.21
17. Conference Carolinas $13,216.01
18. Great Northwest Athletic Conference $9,286.07
19. Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference $8,491.15
20. Mountain East Conference $8,475.38
21. Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference $8,340.69
22. Great Midwest Athletic Conference $7,294.20
23. Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association $3,774.32
24. Independents $183.74

About Make-A-Wish:

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true has positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illness, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Headquartered in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world's leading children's charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 27,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 37 minutes. It has granted more than 254,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 14,200 in 2014 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.