UW Health Sports Medicine 

Badgers Give Back

About Us

Wisconsin Athletics is committed to providing opportunities for it's student-athletes to develop and grow through the exploration of areas of social relevance while responding to the needs of the greater Madison community.

The Badgers Give Back program was unveiled to the public in September, 2012, in an effort to better serve the Madison community. The first year of the Badgers Give Back program was an unquestionable success, producing a 263-percent increase in UW student-athlete appearances, 79-percent increase in hours volunteered by UW student-athletes and a 198-percent increase in requests for an appearance by a student-athlete.

UW student-athletes volunteered an impressive 4,185 hours to improving the community, appearing at 145 events during the 2012-13 academic year.

The program continued to grow at a tremendous rate in its second year, producing a 193-percent increase in UW student-athlete appearances and a 194-percent increase in number of hours volunteered by UW student-athletes. In the 2013-2014 academic year, the student-athletes volunteered 8,124 hours at 280 appearances.

The 2014-15 year is poised to be another year of continued growth for the Badgers Give Back program, including the release of several new initiatives.

To best serve the needs of our community and fans, we have concentrated our philanthropic efforts and the Badgers Give Back program into the following areas:


The Badgers are committed to promoting learning and academic achievement amongst the students of Wisconsin, with an emphasis on literacy.

Bookin' It With Bucky:

Bookin' It With Bucky is a long-standing partnership between UW Athletics and the Madison Metropolitan School District. It was established in 2001 with the goal of improving literacy in Dane County. Thanks to the partnership, more than 50 student-athletes donate their time to local schools each year to interact with elementary students and encourage them to read.

More than 9,000 students and 300 classrooms have been impacted by an interaction with a UW student-athletes in the program's 12-year history. Classrooms also receive a visit from Bucky Badger and complimentary tickets and other prizes as a reward for meeting their reading goals. Last year, UW student-athletes volunteered their time in 39 classrooms across Dane County.

In the 2014-15 academic year, UW Athletics partnered with the UW School of Education in an effort to improve the program and increase its impact. Together, UW Athletics and the School of Education created curriculum focused around the 10 core requirements each student is required to achieve before moving on to the next grade.

UW student-athletes will visit participating fourth grade classrooms four times over the course of the academic year to lead students through the curriculum. During their first three visits, UW student-athletes will read a book aloud to students for the first 20 minutes of the visit and will spend the remainder of the visit leading small groups through an activity designed around a core requirement. The final visit of the semester will be a reward visit during which the student-athletes will hand out certificates of achievement and engage the students in fun, literacy-related activities.

Read Across America Day:

On March 3, 2014 UW student-athletes participated in a ten-school tour of the Dane County area in celebration of Read Across America Day. At each school, student-athletes read aloud to students and encouraged them to read.


We are committed to developing the next generation of leaders by supporting programs that foster the development of character and life-skills.

Flat Bucky

UW Athletics debuted the "Flat Bucky" Mentorship program in Fall, 2014. Inspired by the popular children's book "Flat Stanley," the program will pair a UW student-athlete with a participating third grade classroom to share with them the lifestyle of a student-athlete via Instagram.

Participating classrooms will create a "Flat Bucky" for their designated student-athlete that the student-athlete will take with them to class, practice, games and their favorite spots on campus. The student-athletes will take photos with their "Flat Bucky" in these various locations and post them to their Instagram accounts. The class will track the student-athletes' travels on a map in the classroom and will journal about the whereabouts of their "Flat Bucky." Over the course of the year, UW Athletics will arrange for the classroom to meet their student-athlete in-person at either a practice or a game.

Helping Hand

We strive to provide experiences for children and families that provide and strength and joy in a time of crisis or illness.

Wish Upon A Badger

Inspired by the "Make a Wish" campaign, the UW Athletic Department began fulfilling the wishes of young Badger fans facing serious illness several years ago with the "Wish Upon A Badger" program. In cooperation with the American Family Children's Hospital, children are given the opportunity to go behind the scenes with their favorite team, meeting the players and coaches, touring the facilities and hanging out at a practice.

Caleb's Pitch

UW Athletics and the children's hospital partnered to become one of the first universities to adopt "Caleb's Pitch", a non-profit program that allows hospital patients to create artwork by shooting paint-filled syringes at a special target: a UW student-athlete holding the canvas. The program has shown to reduce the anxiety involved with needles and shots by allowing the patients to engage with the syringes in a fun, non-medical setting. One UW athletic team visits the hospital every month to participate.

Shave to Save

Inspired by their visits to the hospital, the UW football team partnered with the American Family Children's Hospital to host the first "Shave to Save" event on October 3, 2013. Childhood cancer patients were invited to Camp Randall Stadium to enjoy a pizza party, a tour of the stadium and the main event: shaving the heads of eight UW football players. Two UW football players also had their heads shaved at the hospital to accommodate patients who were unable to leave the hospital.

Shooting Down Cancer

Men's basketball and head coach Bo Ryan hosted their annual "Shooting Down Cancer" event, also known to UW students as "Make Bo Pay." The event invites students and student-athletes alike to shoot baskets, and for every student who attends as well as every basket made, Coach Ryan and his wife, Kelly, donate money to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. This year's event raised $66,130 with more than 2,100 students in attendance.

Red and White Hunger Fight

The Red and White Hunger Fight is a campus-wide food drive that benefits the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin. The Red and White Hunger fight was started by former UW women's soccer player Michelle Dalton in 2008 and is now organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in conjunction with the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the UW Homecoming Committee and the Community Action Coalition. Student-athletes set up bins across Dane County and go door to door for collections. The student-athletes then collect all the food and sort it for distribution to a local food bank. This year, student-athletes collected 4,886 pounds of food.

Health & Wellness

UW Athletics supports any effort that encourages physical fitness and nutrition.


Created in October 2013, UW Athletics' WiscFit program aims to encourage healthy eating and exercise habits amongst area youth. UW student-athletes visit classrooms to speak with students about the importance of healthy eating and exercise and engage them in an exercise-based activity. They also assist the classroom in setting attainable goals for the year -- two benchmark goals and one ultimate goal. When a classroom reaches its goal, UW Athletics rewards it with a visit from Bucky Badger and certificates of achievement. Twelve classrooms participated in the program in its first year.

UW Athletics partnered with leading childhood obesity researcher Amy Meinen and former UW women's soccer player and current UW School of Medicine and Public Health graduate student Lauren Cochlin to improve the program and increase its impact. Meinen and Cochlin created curriculum deeply rooted in scholastic research on the most effective ways to encourage youth to live a healthy lifestyle. UW student-athletes will make four visits over the course of the academic year to participating fifth grade classrooms to lead the students through exercise-related activities and share targeted messaging on the importance of a healthy eating and exercise.

If you are interested in having a student-athlete make an appearance at your event, please visit the "Appearance" link of our Badgers Give Back page. To submit a request for an in-kind donation, please visit the "Donation" link.

To assist you with the request process, we have developed clear guidelines that adhere to NCAA compliance regulations. We encourage you to read all of the guidelines before submitting your request.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact our Community Relations Coordinator, Kayla Gross, by emailing kgross@athletics.wisc.edu.

We look forward to working with our fans and community partners to improve the Madison community we all call home. On Wisconsin!

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