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Division II sets new Make-A-Wish fundraising record

Annual Division II Week of Wishes to kick off Oct. 3

Student-athletes across the country have set a new Division II fundraising record for Make-A-Wish America during the 2013-14 academic year, raising $567,778. The fundraising total surpassed the previous division record, set in 2012-13, by more than $50,000.

Since Division II student-athletes on the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee started its alliance with Make-A-Wish in 2003, the division has raised nearly $3.5 million for the national nonprofit – helping to fund more than 470 wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Last year alone, student-athletes raised enough to help grant about 70 wishes. Whether it’s a vacation the child has always dreamed of, a visit with a favorite celebrity or tickets to cheer on a beloved sports team, the wishes the organization grants are designed to provide a positive, energizing experience for children battling medical conditions.

“For 11 years, NCAA Division II student-athletes have taken the skills that have allowed them to succeed in athletic competitions, such as teamwork and self-determination, and channeled them toward helping us grant wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions,” said David Williams, CEO and president of Make-A-Wish America. “This record donation – along with the more than $3 million raised for Make-A-Wish in previous years – will forever change the lives of the wish kids who have had their one true wish granted thanks in part to the efforts of NCAA Division II student athletes throughout the country.”

Nearly 77 percent of schools in Division II participated in the most recent fundraising efforts. Of those, 141 schools exceeded their total raised in 2012-13 and consequently received matching donations through Make-A-Wish America of up to $1,000 for local Make-A-Wish chapters. The matching donations amounted to more than $75,000.

Keeping with the record-setting trend, two schools — the University of North Georgia and Barry University — exceeded the $20,000 mark, a first for the division. Additionally, the Peach Belt Conference became the first Division II conference to donate more than $50,000.

Shanteona Keys, a member of the Division II national SAAC and the Georgia College women’s basketball team, said her school managed to bring in $9,385 through events such as a formal dance, a tennis tournament and a raffle. “I think it has a lot to do with the student-athletes and the attributes we like to hold to high esteem,” Keys said.

At times, the division’s Make-A-Wish alliance provides student-athletes with a front-row seat to see their hard work pay off.  Because the money raised during the previous academic year by five Division II institutions exceeded the national average cost of a wish, Barry University, Edinboro University, Molloy College, Saint Leo University and the University of North Georgia were each given the opportunity in February to host a wish celebration.

At Molloy, a 14-year-old boy became an honorary member of the men’s basketball team and received travel and tickets for a professional basketball game between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks in Miami, Florida. “This helped our student-athletes put a face to the cause,” said John Galanoudis, a member of the Division II national SAAC who plays baseball at Molloy. “All our athletes came out to the event. It was probably the most packed I’ve ever seen our gym.”

Division II is already looking to build upon its fundraising success, with its fourth annual Week of Wishes running Oct. 3-15. During that time, the division is encouraging its schools to host Make-A-Wish fundraisers at campus sporting events and to spread awareness of the cause on social media.

Top 10 Institutions:

1. University of North Georgia $21,413.00
2. Barry University $20,220.50
3. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania $10,767.98
4. Georgia College and State University $9,385.00
5. Delta State University $8,154.62
6. Wingate University $7,030.00
7. Indiana University of Pennsylvania $6,891.92
8. Flagler College $6,555.00
9. Saint Leo University $6,000.35
10. Grand Valley State University $6,000.00
10. University of Findlay $6,000.00

Conference Rankings:

1. Peach Belt Conference $55,293.61
2. Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference $43,400.65
3. Sunshine State Conference $36,496.58
4. Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference $30,422.54
5. South Atlantic Conference $28,133.48
6. Pacific West Conference $25,912.66
7. California Collegiate Athletic Association $25,795.79
8. East Coast Conference $21,104.48
9. Gulf South Conference $20,935.09
10. Great Lakes Valley Conference $20,659.67
11. Northeast-10 Conference $16,417.92
12. Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference $14,567.00
13. Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association $14,248.58
14. Lone Star Conference $10,839.58
15. Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference $10,244.36
16. Heartland Conference $8,860.47
17. Conference Carolinas $8,852.54
18. Great Midwest Athletic Conference $7,049.67
19. Great Northwest Athletic Conference $5,830.31
20. Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference $5,703.99
21. Great American Conference $5,515.42
22. Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference $5,107.81
23. Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association $4,673.69
24. Mountain East Conference $3,487.50
25. Independents $1,121.40