HILLARY SMITH: Gavit finds cause for day of athletic dollars

2013-05-05T20:00:00Z 2013-05-05T20:14:31Z HILLARY SMITH: Gavit finds cause for day of athletic dollarsHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 05, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | In an age of shrinking athletic budgets with every dollar being stretched to the limit, Gavit is doing something wild with Tuesday's sports revenue: the Gladiators are giving it away.

Instead of trying to have different school groups from Gavit (like the drama club, or SADD, or the track team) participating in the same June 1 Relay for Life for all different reasons, the school created a single group.

Gavit's Relay for Life Council has promoted fundraisers. Council president Savannah Caudillo, a sophomore, dressed up like Dorothy for a skit to promote the event.

At a school where students work part-time jobs to help their parents support their families, the council is already halfway to its goal of $5,000 by June 1. Students are giving pocket change, and portions of their allowance or paycheck to the Relay for Life team.

"We've been doing so much," Caudillo said, "and it's been great to see the Gavit community pulled together even more."

That's where Tuesday's athletics fundraiser comes in.

The Gladiators are hosting a varsity baseball game, a junior varsity softball game and the conference track meet at the school. Every dollar from ticket sales will go to the Relay for Life Council fund.

The weather Tuesday doesn't call for more than a 10 percent probability of rain, offering a great chance to take in a game that will raise money for charity.

Consider this, the conference track meet will bring in four times more parents than the average dual meet, which also means four times as many snacks sold at the concession stand.

"This has bonded the Gavit community," said Caudillo, a volleyball player who missed softball season after knee surgery. "What we learned last year at the relay was that whether people got there early or got there later, they all walked together, even if their friends weren't there. Everyone was able to connect in different ways."

The softball players, track athletes and tennis players will be wearing purple socks on Tuesday and collecting individual donations for their Relay for Life team. Purple is Gavit's school color, but is also the color designated to encompass all cancers.

This is how dedicated this group is to its team: Before the Relay for Life, which begins at noon on June 1 and ends at 8 a.m. on June 2 at the Whiting Pavillion, the students will also be conducting a stuffed animal drive, and then will sell darts to pop balloons during the event. Each popped balloon will win a stuffed animal, and all extras will be donated to a children's hospital.

"I've been in a lot of communities, and around a lot of different groups," said Janet Wartman, the community representative for the American Cancer Society, "but I've never seen a group of kids that have taken the bull by the horns and succeeded like this group."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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