Winning games is now just one of two goals at Yale Athletics events this semester. The other? Raising money for Haiti.
On Jan. 29, the Department of Athletics launched a fundraising campaign called “Team Up For Haiti” to include athletes in Yale’s larger relief response to the earthquake, which hit the country Jan. 12. The initiative is — as its name says — a teaming up of student-athlete and administrative efforts.
“It has come from the students, and we are working within the department with everybody’s help to put together various programs to team up for Haiti,” Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said. “We are working each week to try and come up with different ideas about where we might bring our efforts next.”
The goal is for each weekend’s events to bring in about $600, said Assistant Director of Athletics Amy Backus. Donation collection boxes labeled “Team Up For Haiti” have been placed in most winter sports venues, including Ingalls Rink and Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
“We would like to raise as much as we can, so we are encouraging people to bring some extra dollars in their pockets,” Backus said, noting that Yale Athletics will also donate all net profits from concession stand sales.
T-shirts with the “Team Up For Haiti” logo were available for purchase this weekend at a cost of $10 each, but Backus said the price might be lowered if sales do not increase.
Yale Athletics is also carefully balancing the Haiti initiative with other fundraisers, such as the all-day WBCA Pink Zone event on Feb. 20, which will collect donations for breast cancer research. Backus said the Department is working to keep Haiti-related events from competing too heavily with already established fundraisers.
While the Haiti initiative formally kicked off with a pair of men’s hockey games against Union and Rensselaer at Ingalls Rink on Jan. 29 and 30, respectively, the women’s lacrosse team posted the first athletic-driven contributions to Yale’s Haiti relief after deciding to turn its free Jan. 24 clinic for local girls’ lacrosse players into a fundraiser instead. The clinic collected more than $3,500 for the American Red Cross’s relief efforts.
Defender and captain Claire Eliasberg ’10 called the event a “huge success.” Held at the SONO Field House in Norwalk, Conn., it featured women’s lacrosse coaching staff and team members, and was attended by approximately 75 young athletes.
“I was overall surprised at the amount of donations people were willing to make — it was impressive,” added midfielder Brittany De Lea ’13. “Everyone was really excited, and we were enthusiastic to be able to contribute in some way.”
Women’s crew member Catherine Hart ’10 already has plans in the works for another Haiti fundraiser.
Hart and the new Yale Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will host a “lift-a-thon” the first weekend after spring break to raise money from preset pledges by the participants. The bench-press competition will be a headliner event for SAAC and is open to all members of the Yale community, athletes and non-athletes alike.
“The athletics department response [to the lifting contest] was enthusiastic,” Hart said. “They are really looking to raise as much money as possible … They’ve been very supportive.”
Hart said she thinks the “Team Up For Haiti” initiative has the potential to be highly successful, especially because athletic events offer an ideal way of bringing in donations.
“I think it’s excellent because they’re able to attract large groups of people in places at one time, which is probably one of the most effective ways of raising money,” Hart said.
Yale Athletics will funnel all proceeds from its Haiti fundraiser into one of the organizations the University as a whole is already working with: Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross, Partners in Health and UNICEF.