Athletics News
I FUND Conducts Second Annual Student-Athlete Thank-A-Thon
Aug. 19, 2014

By Lexi Shurilla, staff writer | @SusanAlexisS

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The second annual I FUND Student-Athlete Thank-A-Thon was held at Memorial Stadium recently, giving Illinois student-athletes the chance to personally thank donors for their support over the past year. Student-athletes made phone calls to show their gratitude for the gifts to Illinois Athletics. The event was an even greater success than last year's as more student-athletes participated, and the number of donors receiving calls was doubled.

The I FUND has approximately 7,000 active members and provides scholarships and academic support services to Illinois' over 500 varsity student-athletes. This past year, I FUND donors contributed a record setting amount to Illinois by raising more than $29 million in cash for the 2014 fiscal year ending June 30. This includes all donations raised through the annual fund for scholarships, endowments, I Legacy gifts, Premium Seating and gifts to State Farm Center and Memorial Stadium.

On July 29, just over 40 student-athletes took to the phones to call and thank approximately 1,000 supporters for their support of the I FUND and Illinois Athletics. The student-athletes made calls from the press box of Memorial Stadium during a three-hour span where they each had a one hour shift. Illinois academic counselors, Kathy Kaler and Annie White, and Director of Men's Basketball Operations, Mark Morris helped organize the volunteer student-athletes.

The supporters were positive and appreciative of the personalized 'thank you' from the student-athletes, and loved being able to wish them good luck on the upcoming season. The student-athletes also enjoyed getting the chance to speak with donors that support athletic scholarships at Illinois.

"This event is a great idea," Nia Oden, senior forward on the women's basketball team said. "It gives us the opportunity to express our gratitude to supporters of our athletic programs. It is important that we show our appreciation to those who support our athletic scholarships so they know the impact it is having."

"This is quickly becoming a highlight of our year," Assistant Athletics Director for Development Chris Peacock said. "Last year we made approximately 500 calls, this year we doubled the numbers. We had a higher number of student-athlete participation and we hope to see those numbers continue to rise in the future.

"We want to make sure that Fighting Illini Nation knows that our student-athletes really do appreciate the support and they wanted to take the time to make these calls."