Oct. 2, 2013
Written by Athletic Communications Assistant, Justine Buerkle
Gopher student-athletes are making a difference in the community through the Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community (MAGIC) program.
Between athletic and academic responsibilities, free time can be hard to come by for busy student-athletes. Yet 84.5 percent of Minnesota Golden Gophers spent at least some of their rare free time this past year volunteering through Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community.
Anissa Lightner, the assistant director of Student-Athlete affairs, said that MAGIC's main goals are to help student-athletes give back and to allow community members to see beyond the maroon and gold uniforms and into the off-the-field side of the Gophers.
Continuing relationships play an important role in MAGIC's success. Student-Athlete Affairs organized 242 events in the past year, and many of them are annual and/or parts of larger initiatives.
The Hope Day Festival, held for children with life-threatening illnesses, was the seventh annual. Four student-athletes were on the planning board for the event, and Lightner said it "just keeps getting bigger and better." Additions to the 2013 event included increased student group involvement and a "game-and-ride" trailer that simulated the conditions and motions shown in video games as the kids played.
Create a Memory is another of the largest volunteer events involving Minnesota student-athletes. They serve as celebrities during a day of fun at Target Field with a group of 500 kids.
Camp Odayin is one of the longest events, as the volunteer group is gone for about 14 hours. The camp gives kids with heart disease a chance to be outdoors and have fun in a safe place where they can get emergency care if they need it.
A few campaigns with some of the greatest visibility are annual collection drives for Toys for Tots and Second Harvest. Student-athletes attend other Gopher teams' sporting events to collect donations at entrances or in the concourses.
MAGIC also runs several ongoing educational campaigns. In the upcoming year, it will add anti-bullying and dental hygiene programs. MAGIC will also look to go more in-depth with its existing programs, including "Exercise Your Heart and Mind" and "Eat Smart Play Hard," promoting healthy lifestyles and dedication in the classroom. Exercise Your Heart and Mind focuses on fostering girls' interest in math and science.
MAGIC's community partners will notice another new addition soon: a new MAGIC bus. The bus brings Gopher volunteers to and from many MAGIC events, and is decorated with photos of Gopher student-athletes who volunteer through the program. The program's sponsor, St. Jude Medical Foundation, made the new bus possible.
Whether on the MAGIC bus or by their own transportation, Gopher student-athletes made it out into the community for 11,764.4 recorded volunteer hours from April 2012 to April 2013. Many of them were repeat volunteers, as 205 Gophers logged more than 10 hours, 101 more than 25 hours and 40 more than 50 hours during that time.
"When you don't have a requirement for it, but we still gave around 12,000 hours back to the community, to me that's just incredible," Lightner said. "It really shows the passion that our student-athletes have."
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