Jan. 1, 2010
Madison, Wis. - She says it is a team effort, but without her help, the Red and White Hunger Fight (RWHF) would never have started. Michele Dalton, a native of Mt. Prospect, Ill., and Wisconsin's women's soccer goalie, has managed to succeed not only in the classroom and on the field, but also by organizing for the second time in two years, the Red and White Hunger Fight, the first campus-wide food drive ever.
"I began this effort in 2008 because I had a similar experience in high school and wanted to bring the idea of a big event to UW-Madison," says Dalton, who managed to attract numerous students organizations and sixteen UW athletic teams to help out in this year's event. "I think it's tremendously important for athletes to get involved in community service opportunities, although the need for community service doesn't make it any easier for athletes to do so," she says. Dalton agrees that between study, practice and travel schedules, Badger athletes struggle to make time for other activities. "To be at the top of our game and on top of our studies is a full time job that requires 100 percent energy and effort 100 percent of the time. We get it done but it's not always eas
Dalton says that organizing the RWHF consumes most of her free time in the fall, but she is passionate about helping people and about giving back to those less fortunate than herself. "Sometimes my family says that I disappear in the fall," she says. "Organizing and coordinating the RWHF is no small feat, [...] add the soccer season into the mix and you're lucky to find me during the fall," she says. With Dalton's help, many families who probably wouldn't be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, have something to eat on that day.
"For families fortunate enough to have a steady income and food regularly available, having a Thanksgiving meal becomes second nature. This isn't the case for far too many people and I enjoy doing everything I can to try and make a Thanksgiving meal a reality."
Dalton believes that the RWHF is a great event for athletes to participate in because people are always looking up to them. "Athletes especially need to participate in events like the RWHF because we are role models in the community. Young players and families look to us to set good examples and community service is a good way to show how we individually make a difference off the field."
Dalton's performance on the field this season has also been extremely successful. The Badgers only lost one home game this year and played Boston College in the Sweet Sixteen. "[Getting to the NCAA tournament] was one of the goals we had set as a team before the season began, so seeing our hard work pay off in that way was incredibly satisfying."
The next challenge for Dalton will be to keep the Red and White Hunger Fight going for many years to come. "As much as I'd like to stay in college forever, I won't be able to coordinate the event in a few years. Having organizations and individuals take responsibility for its sustainability the next couple of years will be key to its survival," she says. Dalton will try to improve the event for two more years until she graduates with a double major in sociology and psychology in the spring of 2012.
"There's still work to be done. For now, we will continue to learn from mistakes we may have made and brainstorm to make The Red and White Hunger Fight more successful every year."
By UW golfer Isabel Álvarez