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    November 5, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    During its third annual participation in “Flames Giving Day” on Wednesday, Liberty University’s Club Sports department raised 99.7 percent of its targeted goal of $350,000 to support its more than 700 student-athletes in 44 distinct programs.

    “It’s unbelievable that we’ve been able to raise that much money in such a short period of time,” Club Sports Director of Recruitment & Varsity Club Ben Hughes said. “It’s incredible to see the support out there for our teams and our coaches and our student-athletes. It’s cool to see the new people that jump on board, as well as the faithfulness of those who are willing to support our teams year after year.”

    As a university, Liberty raised over $2.8 million over a period of 24 hours during its largest annual fundraising drive. Club Sports again partnered with the Flames Club and Liberty’s Development office,  and exceeded last year’s total contributions of  $263,290.75 by approximately $85,000.

    “It’s a huge blessing and super humbling to see the amount of support that flows in,” Hughes said. “Our department and coaches have done an awesome job of supporting the student-athletes, with reporting and logistics and staffing and organization. Now, we want to make sure that we are really intentional about where the money goes and connecting back to those people who gave for those reasons to thank them.”

    He said most teams will invest the funds into apparel and equipment for their respective sports. Donations will also contribute to travel, accommodation, and food expenses during national tournaments and other away games as well as potential mission trips, with the rest going to other special projects such as community service outreaches.

    For the third year in a row, the Flames’ ACHA Division I men’s hockey team set the bar for most money raised, eclipsing its record total from last November. It was one of two programs to exceed its fundraising goal, with archery being the other, while men’s swimming (99 percent), DII men’s hockey (98 percent), DIII men’s hockey (98 percent), equestrian (97 percent), LU Dance (97 percent), men’s and women’s wrestling (97 percent), women’s DI hockey (97 percent), women’s DII hockey (97 percent), beach volleyball (96 percent), men’s indoor volleyball (95 percent), women’s gymnastics (94 percent), disc golf (93 percent), and cycling (92 percent) came close.

    The top five Club Sports “ambassadors” who solicited the most donations for their respective teams were Madison Natter from the ACHA Division II women’s hockey program who received 50 donations to earn a $1,000 bonus for her team in a Flames Giving Day Challenge. She was followed by men’s triathlete Jack Pizor (44 donations), new LU Dance Head Coach Kristan Ware, who started her new role on Tuesday and helped draw 28 donations to her first-year Club Sports team, and men’s swimming senior Matthew Davidson (20) and Head Coach Heath Grishaw (18).

    “The student-athletes had their headquarters (at the LaHaye Ice Center), and teams were stationed in the suites upstairs,” Hughes said. “Having that headquarters allowed the coaches and the teams to coordinate their efforts together and to make it an event, promoting that sense of camaraderie and collaboration. We had different competitions throughout the day, with bingo cards made up for teams to complete different activities on. Every team is going to be a little different in their approach.”

    He said the most successful strategy for raising support was through Flames fans as well as family and friends.

    “A lot of the engagement comes from calling and texting and social media,” Hughes said. “Our athletes and coaches were super engaged on social media and were getting alumni of their teams to make videos and post to their Instagram stories.”

    He said the teams will continue to express gratitude to their supporters throughout the upcoming seasons.

    “We want to continue to provide value to them as they have a heart to continue to serve our teams and our athletes,” Hughes said. “As we continue to build up the donor base that we have, we want to make sure that we’re serving them also, having that heart to give back to them, help them attend sporting events around campus, serving them and creating a high level of engagement and hospitality throughout the year.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer