As a part of a cross-campus competition, University students have partnered with students from Michigan State University to make wishes come true for children who are patients at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
From Feb. 25 to March 1, student volunteers will be collecting donations at booths and online on both campuses to “Make Blue and Green Wishes Come True.” The collegiate challenge aims to raise $25,000 per campus during the week leading up to the men’s basketball game, against Michigan State, March 3.
Gregory Yanik, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine, is a member of the executive committee of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. He said the fundraiser began to take shape when his son, LSA senior Brandon Yanik, approached him with the idea in late 2012. Planning started by the beginning of the winter semester.
“I grew up around Mott hospital and I grew up around these kids,” Brandon said. “I think it’s just great to be able to put a smile on these kids’ faces.”
Gregory said he and Brandon were walking through the Union one day when they decided to stop in the Office of Student Activities and Leadership to ask for assistance with finding a student group on campus to get involved and were led to community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. They also contacted MSU senior Daniel McAree, a family friend; and MSU-STARS, the MSU student Make-A-Wish Foundation group.
Gregory said he and the students sent proposals to both universities and the Make-A-Wish Foundation for approval.
For the past two months, groups on both campuses have been working to design donation websites and Facebook pages, gather volunteers and advertise the event.
LSA senior Briana Lucido, co-chair of the Make-A-Wish Foundation committee for Alpha Phi Omega, said the project was an opportunity the fraternity just couldn’t pass up.
“Personally, I am honored to be involved with such an event because it has so much potential and everyone who is working on it is really passionate about making it such a success,” Lucido said.
McAree said students have been making presentations at fraternity and sorority meetings for the past few weeks to gain support from the Greek community at MSU. He also had the opportunity to meet with pediatric patients from Sparrow Hospital, which he said was very motivating.
“They’re just very inspirational, brave young kids,” McAree said. “So meeting them has really inspired me to work as hard as possible so we can help out as many kids as possible.”
The organizers approached both campus athletic departments for support. Former University football coach Lloyd Carr and former Michigan State basketball player Mateen Cleaves agreed to film promotional videos with children from Mott and Sparrow Hospitals, respectively.
“That’s another testament to how supportive the University individuals are about making a difference in someone’s life and really helping out someone how needs it,” Lucido said.
Gregory Yanik said this is the first Make-A-Wish collegiate challenge in Michigan. He hopes the event will continue between the two schools and will spread to other colleges and universities.
“This is a grassroots effort being run by two incredibly well-meaning, energetic groups of students on both campuses,” Gregory said. “We are hoping this will lay the groundwork for similar campus challenges across the country.”
Gregory said he’s very proud of the event’s progress thus far and has high hopes for its success this week.
Lucido said she is amazed by the progress both campuses have made so far.
“People never cease to amaze me,” she said. “Michigan’s campus is very full of energy and I’m hoping that we can really be successful … and bring awareness to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and hopefully get more people involved.”