Spartan student-athletes at USC Upstate have always taken pride in their annual efforts to raise funds for cancer charities across the nation.  However, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) this past year decided that they would rather make a difference in their own local community so they could have first-hand knowledge of the impact their efforts were making.

The Upstate Department of Athletics initiated a partnership with Gibbs Cancer Center at Spartanburg Regional that would bring those fundraising efforts local.  “We were excited to get to know the people at Gibbs Cancer Center better and let them know we were working hard for their center and their patients,” says Mike Meissner, Upstate track student-athlete and SAAC vice president.  “I was more motivated in fundraising knowing that I’ll be helping someone in our local community.”

This partnership has proved fruitful for both Gibbs and the Upstate Spartans.  The department raised over $4,500 this year for the local center’s Special Needs Fund in order to assist patients who need treatment but cannot afford the costs.  “When we toured Gibbs last fall and heard from the administrators and staff that they never turn patients away, we knew that this was the place where we could make a difference” Meissner added.  Mike Kennedy, Director of Gift Planning at the Spartanburg Regional Foundation, also values the relationship.  “The student-athletes at USC Upstate are really making a difference for cancer patients in our community with this gift.  The Gibbs Cancer Center and Spartanburg Regional Foundation are very proud to be the recipient of their fundraising efforts and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

The Spartans hosted various events throughout the year to raise funds like an annual pancake breakfast at Fatz Café in Boiling Springs, a PinkZone event in conjunction with women’s basketball, and the women’s soccer team held their first annual Kickin’ It for Cancer event that contributed over $2,000 toward the cause.

As a result of their efforts, the Spartans garnered first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference SAAC fundraising competition, an accomplishment they had worked toward the past few years.  Each A-Sun institution chooses a charitable cause for the fundraising competition and the Spartans beat out Mercer University, the competition winner the previous three years, and ETSU who placed third.

“In the A-Sun we pride ourselves on ‘Building Winners for Life’ and we know our student-athletes are making a difference on their campuses and in their communities by opening up their hearts and minds while participating in these various projects,” said Atlantic Sun Senior Associate Commissioner Sherri Booker. “We are very proud of the student-athletes at USC Upstate for their efforts and congratulate them on a well deserved victory.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a check was presented to Ms. Betty Montgomery and Dr. Shelia Breitweiser at the Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Cancer Division Board meeting.  “I couldn’t be more complimentary of our student-athletes and their efforts in serving our local community,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Dr. John Stockwell.  “They are true ambassadors of our university’s metropolitan mission and their work to support Gibbs Cancer Center at Spartanburg Regional makes our entire Spartan community proud.”

~This article is from South Carolina Up

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