Sport Public Relations Students Raised Over $7000 to Give Back to the Community

Sport Public Relations Students Raised Over $7000 to Give Back to the Community

During the Spring 2017 semester, students from Sport Public Relations (SMGT 466) class created and implemented a number of unique community relations project to give back to the community. With the support of Department Chair and course professor, Dr. Clark Haptonstall, a total 13 projects were executed and raised over $7000 as well as other forms of donations to support local charities and communities.

Lindsey Hodge ‘18, Savannah Durkin ‘18, Mitchell Meissner ‘18, Mario Carmona ‘18, and Jeremy Reiskind ‘17 created a group called “Owls Fore Charity.” Partnering with the First Tee of Greater Houston, a junior golf development organization, Owls Fore Charity focused on raising funds to support programs that promote the game of golf to young people in the Houston community. The group collaborated with the Rice Golf Team and reached out to donors to pledge an amount for every birdie a Rice Owl made during the spring 2017 gold season. With the generous support of 41 donors, Owls Fore Charity was able to raise a total of $5400 for the First Tee of Greater Houston.

“We are extremely thankful for everyone’s support of Owls Fore Charity and the First Tee of Greater Houston,” Carmona said. “Without their help, this project would not have been possible.”

In addition, the Rice Golf Team attended a First Tee Clinic on March 4th to give back to the organization.

“It was very neat to be present at the kids’ graduation day,” Carmona said, “The smile on their faces is something I will never forget.”

Wendy Zhang '18 Toss-A-Ball

Wendy Zhang ‘18 hosted the Toss-A-Ball Fundraiser during the Rice Women’s Tennis Match on April 9. Fans purchased and tossed tennis balls between doubles and singles matches for a chance to win Rice Athletic prizes. The event raised a total of $739 for the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation, a nonprofit organization strives to support the community impacted by Neurofibromatosis.

“I was diagnosed with an NF tumor at a very young age. Fortunately, I was able to live a normal life and continue my education and tennis career at Rice University,” Zhang said. “However many patients with NF can struggle with terrible disfigurement, deformity, and even death. As someone who understands the disorder at a personal level, I wanted to host an event that can help support the NF community.”

Mary Claire Danilevics ‘18, Samantha Chaiken ‘18, and Alexandra Lowes ‘18 organized a FootGolf Tournament at the Glenbrook Golf Course in Houston to raise money for their fellow classmate, Maddie Lundberg, who has been suffering from an ailment called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome (POTS). She and had to undergo a number of diagnostic procedures and physical therapy to retain her heart.

“We all love Maddie,” Lowes said. “She was a great captain, and one of the most positive and caring teammates I have ever had.”

The FootGolf Tournament was a success as it drew 67 players and raised $764 for Maddie to cover some of the medical costs.

Eboni Sutherland ‘17 implemented the 1st Annual Holloway-Ley Book Drive to promote childhood literacy and donated 170 books to A.A. Milne Elementary School, a local, low-income elementary school located in Houston.

“With me going into teaching next year through Teach for America,” Sutherland said, “I am very passionate about creating and providing opportunities for children in low-income situations since I have been in a similar situation myself.”

Sutherland is expecting Holloway-Ley Book Drive to be continued in the future.

Martin Rather ‘18, as the head coach of the varsity basketball team at YES Prep East End, ran a basketball clinic every Wednesday for high school girls, focusing on providing basic skill training, enhancing academic performance, and improving nutrition.

“Our efforts brought significant media attention from the Houston Chronicle, KHOU, and CW39,” Rather said. “But I am most proud of the fact that our girls improved their basketball abilities.”

Brandt Frazier ‘18, Michael Kidd ‘17, and Bayne Wunderlich ‘17 hosted a baseball equipment drive for Spring Spirit, a local goodwill organization. Throughout the semester, they collected used baseball gears on every Sunday home game on the 2017 Rice Baseball schedule and managed to collect dozens of equipment of different kinds from their teammates, family, friends, and fans.

"As members of the Rice baseball team, we know that we are extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to be around and play the game that we loved growing up with no obstacles, but that's not the case with everyone;” Kidd said. "We decided that we'd like to do our part and make it easier for kids to play baseball by donating equipment that they otherwise might not have.”

Carson Crain ‘16, along with his Next Generation USA sailing team, spent time meeting and sailing with the America’s Cup Endeavour Program kids in Bermuda on March 27. As the team was training for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, they took a day off their schedule and shared their love and passion for sailing with the younger generation of sailors.

“It was a very successful day and a great way for our team to give back to the younger generation,” said Crain.

Dreu Dixson ‘17 and Brandon Dawkins ‘17 organized a Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Outreach Week at the Garden City Boys and Girls club in Houston. They inspired the young kids with stories on how they worked hard and made it to Rice University as student-athletes. They also had a sports day with the kids where they bonded by playing dodgeball, basketball, and various races. Lastly, the Boys and Girls club came out to the Rice track meet on April 22 and enjoyed a day of races and fun.

"It was an amazing experience to get the opportunity to inspire so many children with our personal stories of being hardworking student-athletes,” Dixson said. “Children are our future so knowing we impacted at least one is a lifetime of satisfaction!"

Christian Crenshaw ‘18, Steven Johnson, and Jee Kang ‘17 created Project Unify that aims to improve inter-group relations on campus between student athletes, international students, and the general student body. Around 30 students attended the Project Unify kick-off event at Jones College Commons on April 7th.

“It definitely affirmed how much we need to connect the student athletes, general students, and the international students,” Kang said. “We think a better next step will be to incorporate it into Orientation Week to set a better tone. Our group had a lot of fun putting it together and we hope that the next few years, other students will take it on as their own project.”

Andres Diego ’17 partnered with a local Chipotle restaurant located on Fannin Street to raise funds for the Houston Food Bank, the largest food donation foundation in the city that is committed to leading the fight against hunger. Fifty percent of each Chipotle meal purchased at the Fanning location between 4-9pm on March 4th were donated to the foundation. The fundraiser raised $334.85 for the Houston Food Bank, which translates to 1005 meals.

“I advertised door-to-door on campus by pitching the event to people face-to-face,” Diego said as he shared his experience about the project. “The success of a fundraiser requires meaningful participation that's only possible if what you're pitching is relatable and attractive.”

Perry Goldstein ‘18 and Jordan Lee ’18 also supported the Houston Food Bank by hosting a Rice Day at the foundation. They organized a group of Rice students to travel to the Houston Food Bank on April 15th from 1 pm - 4 pm and produced over 4,000 meals during their shift.

Philip Humber ‘17 promoted the Baseball for Babies event at the April 30th Rice baseball game. Along with this, he is also auctioning a pair of autographed custom spikes he received for pitching a Perfect Game for the Chicago White Sox in 2012. All of the proceeds will go to support the Baseball for Babies Charity, which supports families dealing with premature births in the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as research for ending premature births.

“It has been a great experience helping a worthwhile cause that was started by a teammate of mine when I played at Rice,” Humber said.

Courtney Brown ’18 hosted a shoe drive for Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that donates shoes to people in need all around the world.

Denzel Davis ‘17, Egor Koulechov ‘18, and Jacob Trauber ‘18 hosted a free basketball clinic for underprivileged kids in Houston. The clinic provided basketball training, an inspirational message from John Lucas III, a former NBA player, giveaway prizes and pizza and drinks at the end.

Wendy Zhang, a junior from Vancouver, Canada, is majoring in Sport Management and minoring in Business