Student-athletes provide day of fun for children facing life-threatening illnesses

UMSL student-athletes with Wish kids

UMSL student-athletes gave Wish kids a tour of their facilities in the Mark Twain Building and took in men’s and women’s basketball games with them at the Jan. 21 Make-A-Wish Day event. (Photos courtesy of UMSL Athletics)

Members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee helped brighten the days of four families with children facing life-threatening illnesses on Jan. 21.

Wish kids and UMSL cheerleaders standing for the national anthem

Wish kids joined UMSL cheerleaders on the court for the national anthem.

They welcomed them to the University of Missouri–St. Louis for Make-A-Wish Day, which coincided with the Tritons’ men’s and women’s basketball games against Truman State.

The families, all connected to Make-A-Wish Missouri, received meal vouchers to the concession stands at the Mark Twain Building gymnasium, and student-athletes took the kids and their relatives on tours of the athletic facilities, showing them the hall of fame along with the locker and weight rooms.

The kids also got to join UMSL cheerleaders on the court during the national anthem before the women’s game.

“One of SAAC’s goals is community service, and we have a long-lasting partnership with Make-A-Wish, focused on fundraising for their inspiring mission,” said SAAC President Evan Garrad, a member of the Tritons men’s soccer team the past four seasons. “But this year we decided a day of fun for the kids could be another way to show support while also giving our students a more personal motivation for their efforts throughout the year.”

Louie the Triton greets Wish kids in the stands at the Mark Twain Building gymnasium.

Garrad said SAAC did some passive fundraising on Saturday in Mark Twain, but there are plans for a more targeted effort later in the spring semester, starting with a PowerPong event that has become a student-athlete tradition.

UMSL is not alone among NCAA Division II student-athletes supporting Make-A-Wish. The NCAA Division II SAAC established a partnership with the foundation in 2003 and has since become one of its largest and most consistent contributors.

Student-athletes, coaches, administrators, parents, fans, friends and communities across the country have raised more than $4.5 million toward granting the wishes of and making a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Nearly 600 wishes have been granted through Division II contributions.

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