Earlier this week, a handful of student-athletes from women’s basketball, women’s soccer, volleyball and men’s swimming and diving spent the afternoon with about 100 children with cancer and other illnesses. Their community service was part of Spirit Day at Camp Quality Kentuckiana, an organization that serves children with cancer and their families by providing year-round programming, experiences and companionship.
This type of service is nothing new for the Cardinals. This year, UofL’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee continued its partnership with the West End School by starting a pen pal program. The West End School provides at-risk boys from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade with an environment to excel in academics and build character. UofL student-athletes were paired up with students in the third and fifth grade classes and sent letters back and forth throughout the school year. The pen pals met each other in April during an activity-filled day at the Speed Art Museum.
Basketball player Ryan McMahon said the best part about the program was “having some fun with them, seeing the different activities, seeing them at that age and giving them any advice that I can from when I was that age.
“It [the partnership] brings everybody together and puts perspective into the student-athlete’s life, and just taking a little time out of your day you make another kid’s day.”
Earlier this year, 45 student-athletes from nine UofL teams volunteered to put on a three-day event with the Project Life and Be the Match organizations. The event worked to increase the bone marrow donor registry to help those with blood cancers and blood diseases. Throughout the three days, there were six drives that added 130 potential donors to the bone marrow registry.
These efforts are just part of the reason the University of Louisville athletics department finished third in April in the 2018 NCAA Division I Team Works Helper Community Service Competition for its community outreach efforts.
Louisville, which has ranked in the top five in service for four-consecutive years, accrued approximately 9,000 hours of community service for the 2017-18 school year. The Cardinals had a 97-percent participation rate, with 656 student-athletes, including spirit group members, volunteering throughout the community.
NCAA Team Works, which coordinates community service efforts at NCAA championships, and Helper Helper, a volunteer management and tracking platform, launched the community service competition to recognize student-athletes who give back to their communities. The three-month competition ran from January through March with the winning schools’ victories being decided based on the number of service hours completed and participation of student-athletes.
During the competition’s three-month period, Louisville accumulated 3,350 service hours.
Louisville’s athletics teams partnered with 193 nonprofit organizations over the course of the year, including hosting events with Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and Metro Parks Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation.