September 15, 2011

North Georgia Leads Country in Make-A-Wish Efforts

Contact: David Beall,

DAHLONEGA, GA – After finding themselves in the top five a year ago, the Department of Athletics at North Georgia has topped every NCAA Division II institution in the country for the most funds raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation during 2010-11.

After finishing fourth in the country just last year, the Saints have been on a mission and nearly doubled their funds raised with nation-leading $10,265.00 during the 2010-11 academic year.

"This is a testament to the dedication the student-athletes at North Georgia have taken to improving the lives of others, North Georgia SAAC President and softball player Hilary Cox said. "Our Student Athlete Advisory Committee has done a phenomenal job raising money through the years. Hopefully we can continue to improve our totals each year, which will allow us to help more children in the future."

Not even a depressed economy can stop Division II's Make-A-Wish fund-raising efforts. Despite facing the most difficult financial climate in decades, Division II student-athletes across the country raised $405,752 for Make-A-Wish in 2010-11, almost precisely matching the record of $407,683 set the year before.

"North Georgia is definitely an example to Division II at large," Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee chair Nathan Kafer said. "We're glad that this is sort of taking off for different schools, and I'm really proud of North Georgia for their effort."

North Georgia is not only raising money, they are granting local wishes in the local community. From the efforts of student athletes a year ago, a local wish was granted to 16 year old Brittany West who is fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Brittany and her family flew to Hollywood last year to meet Miley Cyrus and enjoy a vacation at Universal Studios. In April, Brittany was an honorary captain at a North Georgia softball game and was recognized for bravery as she continues to fight leukemia.

"North Georgia's commitment to Make-A-Wish is a direct reflection of the commitment Division II has taken through the years," Athletic Director Lindsay Reeves said. "This is a wonderful partnership and we are thankful to have the opportunity to participate."

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Born in 1980 when a group of caring volunteers helped a young boy fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, the Foundation is now the largest wish-granting charity in the world, with 66 chapters in the United States and its territories. 

With the help of generous donors and more than 25,000 volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants a wish every 40 minutes and has granted more than 171,000 wishes in the U.S. since inception. Make-A-Wish and NCAA Division II entered into a partnership in 2003.

The Northeast-10 Conference led the way for conference around the country, raising $30,653. They were followed by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference at $24,799 and the Peach Belt Conference with $24,169.72.

As for fundraising for 2011-12, the SAAC is pointing toward a special Division II Make-A-Wish day to highlight the national effort. Details on timing and structure will be available soon.


- Brittany West and Miley Cyrus in Hollywood -