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Roberts Wesleyan wins 2021 DII Award of Excellence

College recognized for raising funds for children’s hospital

Roberts Wesleyan student-athletes received as much joy as they provided during a trip to Golisano Children’s Hospital in early 2020. The experience drove the Redhawks to do more than make an occasional visit.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Roberts Wesleyan raised more than $10,000 for the acute care children’s hospital located about 10 miles from its campus in Rochester, New York.

Led by student-athletes, the monthlong fundraiser culminated with the final basketball doubleheader of the season in February 2020. All the funds raised during the game were added to the total donation, and three children from the hospital were invited as honorary captains for the games.

Also, during the doubleheader, Roberts Wesleyan student-athletes celebrated winning a fundraising challenge against Director of Athletics Bob Segave. For his loss, Segave received a pie to the face from Roberts Wesleyan President Deana Porterfield.

As a result of its efforts, Roberts Wesleyan today was presented with the 2021 Division II Award of Excellence during the division’s business session. Each year, the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee selects the award winner based on events over the past year that exemplify the Division II philosophy, community engagement and student-athlete leadership.

“Our work in higher education at Roberts Wesleyan is really a mission to provide an educational experience that connects students’ heads to their hearts and engages their hands in service to others. Our Redhawks have exemplified this connection through their commitment to serving the critically ill children of the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York,” Porterfield said. “Although the hospital is located only 10 miles from the Roberts Wesleyan campus, the efforts of our Redhawks have had tremendous impact nationwide through the children and families who are cared for at the hospital.”

This marks the second year Roberts Wesleyan has raised funds for the hospital. Of its most recent donation, $5,000 was designated for the hospital’s library. Due to COVID-19 and the highly susceptible nature of the hospital’s patients, its library has given out books but not allowed patients to return them, which depleted its available resources. The rest of the donation is designated for the Onnie Wells Child Life Fund.

As the winner of the award, the school will receive $2,500 to use toward future community engagement efforts.

Belmont Abbey received the runner-up prize of $1,250 for its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Mr. Crusader Pageant, a fundraiser that tallied more than $1,700 for Make-A-Wish.

Texas A&M-Commerce earned the third-place prize of $1,000 for its #MakeItImportant social media campaign that focused on key actions like voter registration, civic engagement, dialogue on social justice, and inclusion.

A school representative from each of the top three finalists will be interviewed for a College Sports Conversations episode of NCAA Podcasts. Those representatives will be Amari Lee, a Roberts Wesleyan basketball player; Toni Elyea, Belmont Abbey’s volleyball head coach and SAAC advisor; and Alex Shillow, Texas A&M-Commerce football player and chair of the Division II SAAC. The episode will be broadcast on Division II’s social media channels at 8 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, and the audio version will be made available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud.

See the full list of 2021 Award of Excellence finalists here.