Donation domination

Ferris athletics benefits from record-setting fundraiser

Imagine one day every year, over $200,000 is deposited into your bank account. For Ferris Athletics, this dream has become a gracious reality thanks to its One Day for Dawgs annual campaign.

On April 13, 17 sports teams and various athletics staff groups looked to raise funds for their programs. Each team had its own specific goal. Not only were individual program goals at stake, but the overall goal for Ferris was to raise over $300,000. This included all the money raised for academic, athletic and scholarship funds.

“After blowing the $250,000 mark out of the water last year, we set the $300,000 mark as a ‘pie in the sky and see what happens,’” Coordinator of Corporate Sales and Advancement Jake Daugherty said. 

Using both text and online donating options, Ferris reached its goal by raising a grand total of about $305,000. Daugherty knows how important the community outreach was in the effort.

“I played offensive line, so being a former student athlete myself has set me up for understanding the dirty work that has to get done. It’s pretty cool when the community is ‘bought in’ and I think that speaks volumes to what kind of a special place Ferris State is.”

Individually, many programs stood out as exceptional fundraisers. As the overall athletic leaders, hockey brought in the most at just over $20,000 thanks to a generous match by the Blueline club.

Soccer’s initial start sparked huge attention by reaching their $10,000 goal before the afternoon. The team would then go on to reach even further and raise $15,000.

“It was a very successful event for us,” head soccer coach coach Greg Henson said. “We not only hit our main goal, but even our supplemental goal we put in place.”

With the gracious donations, Henson said the team’s main investment will be towards GPS tracking technology for the players.

Using Sport Performance Tracking’s vests and smart devices, each player will be able to monitor health data, such as heart rate, intensity readings, and heatmaps during practice and training sessions to gain information on a player’s performance.

“We’ll be able look at data and use it to manage the load weight on our players on a daily basis,” Henson said. “It will also be huge for us to work with our athletic training staff and conditioning coaches to see how quickly we can get athletes back from injury based on what they do in practice.”

Like soccer, softball also used the fundraiser to upgrade their team gear. Head coach Kristin Janes said their funding will be used to replace old bat bags and helmets without using money from their operating budget.

Many of these donations for all the teams came from former Bulldog alumni, parents and even various faculty; but support from the Big Rapids community was vital.

“Everybody is making hard earned money to make a living,” Janes said. “Their selflessness also goes into what we are trying to teach our athletes. I don’t think we can give this community enough gratitude for the financial support.”

Players also appreciatd the fundraiser, especially as Ferris upgrades the Center of Athletic Performance.

“All the support we get here is truly a blessing,” football player Marshawn Lee said. “Other universities don’t get this type of support system.”

As a leader of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Zoe Anderson is glad to see the support from the campus and community.

“We really pushed our members to talk about it with their teams,” Anderson said on the committee’s involvement. “We made sure we were getting the word out and using social media as a big platform.”

Since its beginning in 2018, the One Day for Dawgs Campaign has taken huge strides. The program originally began as an opportunity to engage the community and young alumni to donate. Each year, Ferris has topped the donation record beginning at $100,000 in 2018.

Daugherty believes the university can raise even more in the coming years.

“Other institutions who are doing similar programs, like Bowling Green, have raised close to a million over the 24-hours,” Daugherty said. “You don’t want to over set a major mark; but for us, the small increment (increase) and growing organically is what will help us achieve our goals.”

The fundraiser is part of the “Rise with Us” campaign started years ago. The goal: encompass the support of all 17 sports at Ferris as one large team.

“People can look at it as a cliché, but its truly a brace with us as one team,” Janes said. “When it comes to the support our athletes get, having faculty, staff and other athletes show up to games is really neat. It’s being a part of an athletic department where everyone is in support for everyone else.”