Sept. 26, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- As a student-athlete, Genevieve Richard knows how to make an impact on the soccer field. Making an impact on the community is something that is just as important to her.
“We wanted to increase our community involvement and the Sickle Cell BBQ was a great opportunity,” Richards said. “We played soccer with three young boys -- it is amazing how something so simple could bring so much happiness to a child and help them forget about their everyday struggles.”
On Sept. 18, Richard, Lexi Peterson, Molly Laufenberg and Brianna Stelzer of women’s soccer; Aja Van Hout and Madison Blaydes of women’s swimming and diving; Alexander DeLakis of men’s swimming and diving; and Grace Heglund-Lohman of women’s track and field attended the first Badger Childhood Cancer Network’s Sickle Cell BBQ at Rennebohm Park in Madison.
The student-athletes spent the day playing soccer, tag, and other fun activities with the kids.
Anne Spurgeon, Badger Childhood Cancer Networks’ executive director, said the goal of the event was to provide the kids with a fun day in the park to take their minds off of their disease while also raising awareness about Sickle Cell disease.
“The Badger Childhood Cancer Network Sickle Cell BBQ’s purpose was to create a fun and positive environment, where the kids can play have fun with family, friends and UW-student-athletes,” Spurgeon said. “We thought hosting a BBQ could bring everyone together outside the traditional counseling environment.”
The student-athletes enjoyed spending time with members of the community and appreciated having the opportunity to give back to everyone that has supported them.
“We all need each other,” Richard said. “As a UW student-athlete, we have fans and donors who come to games and support us. Now it’s our turn to give back to the community and support them the same way they supported us.”
Spurgeon was thrilled with the outcome of the event and was impressed with the involvement of the student-athletes. She is already looking forward to next year’s event.
“The UW student athletes went above and beyond. They played soccer with the kids and shared laughs, as well,” Spurgeon said. “For the first time we as an organization were able to increase awareness about Sickle Cell disease in a fun way.
“The BBQ was a great success, it was a special moment for the children and we will be doing it again next year.”