The George Washington University: Athletics News

A Season of Giving

More than 200 members of the GW Athletic Department participated in the SAAC Dodgeball Tournament.
More than 200 members of the GW Athletic Department participated in the SAAC Dodgeball Tournament.

Dec. 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - GW student-athletes are getting into the giving spirit this holiday season. From volunteering in public schools to organizing dodgeball fundraisers, dozens of athletes are giving back and making a difference in the world.

Here are some of their stories:

The Family Cause

Sophomore Mimi Hamling of the women's tennis team has a personal reason for being part of the Arianna Foundation, based in her hometown of San Diego. It was founded by her parents in memory her youngest sister, Arianna Kim Hamling, whose death of an unknown cause six months into her mother's pregnancy was a heartbreaking loss for the family.

Forming the foundation was a family project. It includes fundraising for such efforts as sponsoring missions and granting programs that directly help children on which the foundation is focused. It created a fundraising tennis tournament that raised money to provide a grant for the program Grace Children's Home in Tijuana, Mexico, to shelter abused, neglected, or abandoned children.

"My parents were drawn to start a foundation to help children in desperate need around the world through the love of Christ," Hamling said. She contributes to the foundations programs when she is at home, including participating in the organizing of the fundraising tennis tournament.

Setting the Right Example

Senior Zach Borenstein, a member of the men's cross country team and a community service representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) says it is important to participate in community service. For Bornenstein,student-athletes are role models. "In fact, President Knapp addresses us every year and calls us `ambassadors of the university,' so it is important to set a good example, both in terms of how we believe the GW student body should act, and how the university projects itself externally."

The council encourages student athletes to get involved in community service, such as the Grassroot Project, an after-school program run entirely by student-athletes at public middle schools in the Washington, D.C. area. Through games and activities, they teach kids about the dangers and risks associated with sex, drugs, and HIV/AIDS.

"But we also try to teach the kids valuable life and community-building skills." Borenstein said.

SAAC also was the driving force behind a December 14 dodgeball event in the Smith Center. More than 200 participants, including student-athletes, athletic administrators, athletic trainers, coaches and other athletic staff played dodgeball as part of a fundraiser for Miriam's Kitchen.Men's swimming senior Andrew Maguire , SAAC vice president, came up with the idea for the event.

"Our initial goal was to have an event to bring together the entire GW athletic community," said Maguire. "We did well with donations at the tournamentP."

Giving Beyond the Season

It's not just the holidays that bring out the passion for community service. Volunteering, and charity events and promotions are a way of life for many GW student-athletes and the rest of the student body.

One example is Special Olympics Day on Saturday, January 15 which will take place at the women's basketball game against St. Bonaventure in the Smith Center . ,

"The day will be about making the Special Olympics athletes feel special," Marketing and promotions coordinator and former GW basketball player Sarah-Jo Lawrence, '.

GW student-athletes will be teamed up with Special Olympic athletes in a buddy system to sit together and enjoy the game and other promotional activities, including a halftime scrimmage.

Borenstein notes that athletics are dependent on the support of the community and as a student-athlete, he feels it is personally important to give back to the community.

"If we recognize the level of involvement of GW student-athletes when it comes to community service, it becomes very apparent that my beliefs are in no way unique." He says many student-athletes recognize that their sports are important to them, but they also recognize what is important to larger groups of people.

"This causes them to think and act outside themselves in ways which can benefit many."

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