The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) was the top Make-A-Wish fundraiser in the Great American Conference (GAC) for the 2016-17 school year.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) partners with the SAACs at each Division II university in order to fundraise for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Harding’s SAAC consists of about 35 to 40 athletes representing each sports team on campus. Last year Harding’s SAAC raised enough money to be the top fundraiser in the GAC and listed 11th out of all Division II schools in the country.
Each school sets their own fundraising goals they hope to raise for the Make-A-Wish foundation. According to NCAA, the average cost of a wish reveal is about $9,000. Harding raised $8,061 but was able to use $1,000 from the previous year to put them over the goal and host a wish reveal. According to, assistant athletic director Brenda Seawel, they are hoping to do the reveal at an upcoming basketball game. They are currently in the process of being matched with a child.
“We are really hopeful that we will be connected to somebody that’s not too far from our community for the wish reveal,” Seawel said. “There are a lot of things involved but I think it would be really neat if we could do that.”
According to SAAC president, Jack Thomas, members decided to hold many smaller fundraisers throughout the year instead of trying to raise the money all at once. While the SAAC is in charge of planning and organizing, Seawel said whole sports teams often get involved. They passed around containers for people to donate at many of the sporting events including football, baseball, soccer, volleyball and others. Seawel also mentioned that last year they had one week in both the fall and spring called the week of restaurants, during which different Searcy restaurants donated income from one night of sales to the cause.
“Just the fact that community wanted to help us and support us in this effort was really neat too,” Seawel said. “We’ve had the fan base help us at the games and then the community by going out to the restaurants and supporting and also in the restaurants themselves.”
Thomas said that the biggest things about fundraisers like this is starting with why they are doing what they are doing. He said it is much easier to motivate people if they see the purpose behind it.
“The heart of what we do is service,” Thomas said. “If we can do something as a group to make one person’s life a little bit better then we are going to do it.”