Oklahoma Christian University and Lubbock Christian University share a lot of things: a faith, a religious mission of service and an athletic conference. So after a Lubbock Christian volleyball player had emergency surgery for a brain bleed, Oklahoma Christian students took it upon themselves to help a friend at their sister school.
Malori Maddox, a redshirt sophomore defensive specialist for the Chaparrals, lost vision in her right eye during a Nov. 10 match. She underwent a five-hour surgery for arteriovenous malformation, a condition with which she was born, and continues to rehab.
Though Oklahoma Christian doesn’t have a volleyball team, many students there knew Maddox or at least her story. Both schools, which are associated with the Churches of Christ, are in their first season competing in the Heartland Conference in Division II and previously had been rivals in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Sooner Athletic Conference. The Eagles decided to put on a fundraiser for Maddox to help defray the family’s medical costs.
“It’s just natural for our kids to serve others,” says Murray Evans, Oklahoma Christian’s sports information director.
The opportunity to help came when the Lubbock Christian women’s and men’s basketball teams were traveling to Oklahoma Christian for a doubleheader Feb. 4.
Posters across the Edmond, Oklahoma, campus and postings on social media featured hashtags started by Lubbock Christian: #PrayForMalori and #PlayForMalori. Eagle PR, Oklahoma Christian’s student-run public relations firm, added its own hashtag with #BucketsForMalori. A news release, newspaper articles and daily chapel announcements helped spread the word.
“It was a show of solidarity and brotherhood in the church,” said Rob McKinzie, Oklahoma Christian’s men’s basketball assistant coach. “It’s our students using athletics as an avenue to advocate for causes they’re passionate about.”
Lubbock Christian brought along T-shirts and wristbands as giveaways. Donation buckets were passed throughout the stands during timeouts. Social service clubs competed outside the gym to see who could raise the most money. Fans also donated a dollar to participate in games of knockout from the free-throw line or half-court shooting contests during halftime.
Eagle PR hoped to raise a couple of hundred dollars for the Maddox family. With a few last-minute donations, the fundraising concluded at just over $1,000.
For Lubbock Christian basketball player Tyler Rogers, the game was especially meaningful. Rogers, who is Maddox’s boyfriend, provided an update on Maddox’s recovery and thanked the team and Eagle PR for putting on the fundraiser.