MAKE-A-WISH FUNDRAISERS
No. Conference Donated
1 Northeast-10 $30,653.30
2 Pa. State Athletic $24,799.61
3 Peach Belt $24,169.72
4 Lone Star $24,151.73
5 South Atlantic $20,489.85
No. School Donated
Note: 2010-11 top five conferences and schools
1 North Georgia $10,265.00
2 TAMU-Kingsville $8,005.78
3 Abilene Christian $7,907.34
4 UMass-Lowell $7,132.63
5 Pitt.-Johnstown $6,370.00

Not even a depressed economy can stop Division II’s Make-A-Wish fund-raising efforts.

Despite facing the most difficult financial climate in decades, Division II student-athletes across the country raised $405,752 for Make-A-Wish in 2010-11, almost precisely matching the record of $407,683 set the year before.

“Make-A-Wish is our ‘baby’ and something we can all take pride in and, despite whatever economic situation people are going through, there’s always something worse going with how people’s lives are affected,” said Nathan Kafer, Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee chair and a recent graduate of Regis (Colo.). “So, whatever we can do to make that better and lessen the burden for those families who are going through those hard times, we really take pride in that.”

As usual, the Northeast-10 Conference led the way, this time raising $30,653. It was followed by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference at $24,799. North Georgia was tops among individual schools, raising $10,265.

The Northeast-10 has led conference Make-A-Wish fundraising since the effort was initiated in 2004, but it was the first time for North Georgia to lead the institutional list.

“They’re definitely an example to Division II at large,” Kafer said. “We’re glad that this is sort of taking off for different schools, and I’m really proud of North Georgia for their effort.”

The year was special in other ways. At the summer meeting of the Division II Student-Athlete Committee, the SAAC was presented with a special-recognition plaque from Make-A-Wish, featuring a print from Jeff Hanson, an accomplished Make-A-Wish recipient/artist.

“As an athlete, it’s always great to have your accomplishments recognized,” Kafer said. “We can take this back to the rest of the student-athletes and say, look, we’re doing something right, we’re being noticed, let’s continue to do so.”

SAAC also heard directly from a Make-A-Wish family about its experience on a skiing trip to Winter Park, Colo.

As for fundraising for 2011-12, the SAAC is pointing toward a special Division II Make-A-Wish day to highlight the national effort.