The University of North Georgia welcomed East Hall High school two-sport athlete, Luke England, to campus for its 8th annual Make-A-Wish Day last month.
England battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 15 but received the news he was cancer-free in July 2018. He spent time with UNG's baseball team before serving as an honorary captain for the nationally-ranked women's soccer team at its game that night. UNG delivered a camouflage UNG baseball jersey to England with his name on it and organized a signing ceremony him.
"We tried to make him feel as special as possible. Being able to help people, that's what life is all about," UNG head baseball coach Tom Cantrell said. "There's no better feeling."
UNG's Make-A-Wish total helped the Peach Belt Conference pull in the second-most money among the 24 Division II conferences with $38,325. UNG was one of five schools to raise more than $10,000, the average cost of granting a wish.
Since 2010, Nighthawk Athletics has raised more than $195,000 for Make-A-Wish.
UNG led all NCAA Division II athletic departments for Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraising for a fourth straight year in 2018-19. A total of 168 Division II schools participated in a Make-A-Wish.
UNG's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) raised $23,929, more than twice as much as Grand Valley State University's $11,000 total, which was the second-most. The group raises money through the annual Nigel's Run with Superheroes Fun Run and 1K Walk in the spring, working Gold Rush parking with Rotary and the Corps of Cadets, collecting donations at a Gold Rush tent, sponsoring Make-A-Wish home athletic events where all gate proceeds are donated, and 50-50 raffles at home events.
"Our SAAC has a tremendous platform in our Make-A-Wish initiative to make an impact on other people's lives and is passionate about positively impacting our local community," said Lindsay Reeves, UNG director of athletics. "We're so proud that our student-athletes have chosen to prioritize enriching lives through their commitment to this division-wide cause of granting life-changing wishes."
Learn more about the eight wish reveals UNG has hosted on campus at the UNG's Make-A-Wish Initiative information page.
Nigel's Run With Superheroes Fun Run and 1K Walk to cap UNG's 2019-20 Make-A-Wish initiative will be held in April 2020.
In 2018-19, Division II schools raised $398,000 for Make-A-Wish, which lifted the total raised by Division II schools since 2003 to $6.2 million. Those funds have facilitated the granting of 740 wishes in 16 years.