June 4, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The Badgers will be showing their pride on Wisconsin roadways this year in the name of community service.
Thanks to a generous donation from Smart Motors of Madison, UW Athletics’ Badgers Give Back program has a vehicle dedicated solely to transporting student-athletes to community events.
“The van is vital to the continued growth of our program,” said Kayla Gross, UW Athletics’ community relations coordinator. “We transport our student-athletes to every charitable event they partake in. Having a vehicle dedicated solely to our program is only going to help us attend more events and further impact the Madison area.”
UW student-athletes’ impact on the Madison area grew tremendously in the Badgers Give Back program’s second year. The Badgers volunteered 8,100 hours of their time at 280 charitable events throughout Dane County, a 190 percent increase over the 2012-13 academic year.
“I could not be more proud of our student-athletes and their efforts to better our community,” Gross said. “There is so much that is expected of them already and to see that, year after year, they continually give more of their free time to volunteering and helping others really speaks to the caliber and character of athletes we have here at Wisconsin.”
Pictures from two very special outreach events are showcased on the Badgers Give Back van. On the driver’s side, former football player Montee Ball poses with 10-year-old James Helmuth, who wished to meet Ball and the Badgers as part of the Wish Upon A Badger program. On the passenger side, Carter, an American Family Children’s Hospital patient, poses with women’s track and field athlete Lavinia Jurkiewicz on the Bucky’s Locker Room Patio at Camp Randall Stadium. The patio is reserved exclusively during football games for nine patients from American Family Children’s Hospital.
“The pictures we chose are really representative of our program,” Gross said. “James Helmuth passed away last year, so we wanted to use the van as a way to honor him and the impact he had on all of us here at UW. The photo of Lavinia and Carter is really representative of our relationship with the American Family Children’s Hospital and all of the incredible bonds and experiences we have had with the patients there.”
Smart Motors understands the importance of giving back to the community and was honored to provide the Toyota Sienna van to help the university in its efforts.
“The history between the University of Wisconsin and the Smart family goes back a long way” said Allen Foster, vice president and general manager of Smart Motors. “We understand the importance of being involved in, and giving back to our community, and the Badgers Give Back van is just one example of our partnership with this great university.”