Saint Leo Lions to Host Make-A-Wish® Celebration for Local Wish Kid

February 11, 2014

On Wednesday, February 12, Saint Leo University will proudly host the first of five celebrations as part of the Make-A-Wish® program when 10-year-old Wish Kid Justin of Oldsmar comes to University Campus.

Make-A-Wish works with families challenged by serious illnesses to find the patient’s most heartfelt desire, and then works to fulfill that dream and provide encouragement. Naturally, Make-A-Wish needs assistance from other organizations to fulfill many wishes, and Saint Leo University and the NCAA Division II embrace the opportunities that arise. This week, athletes and fans congregating in the Marion Bowman Activities Center for a 7:30 p.m. basketball game will get a chance to help cheer for a little boy.

Justin, who has cancer, will be surprised Wednesday with his wish presentation at halftime during the Lions men’s basketball game with the University of Tampa Spartans.

“We are honored to be part of the NCAA Division II team supporting the Make-A-Wish® initiative,” said Fran Reidy, director of athletics at Saint Leo. “We are proud of the efforts of our student-athletes who actively participate in such a worthwhile program, helping Make-A-Wish ® grant more wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.”

“We are thrilled to be able to celebrate Justin’s wish in such a big and exciting way with the help of Saint Leo’s students and athletes. This meaningful day will give Justin and his family hope and strength as they battle cancer together,” said Lisa Andrews, regional director of Make-A-Wish® Central and Northern Florida.

The NCAA Division II’s alliance with Make-A-Wish® was formed in 2003 to connect student-athletes directly to a charitable cause. Since then, student-athletes at NCAA Division II institutions nationwide have put their rivalries aside and channeled their competitive spirits toward a common goal – raising money for Make-A-Wish®. For 2013, NCAA Division II chose five institutions that achieved exemplary fundraising results and rewarded them with the opportunity to host an on-campus wish party. The party will allow each institution to witness first-hand the life-changing impact of a wish.

The NCAA Division II alliance has generated nearly $3 million in total for Make-A-Wish®; $517,000 in FY13 alone. Fundraising at each institution is coordinated by the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), comprised of student-athletes from each sport. Saint Leo’s SAAC raised $9,000 for FY13 (2012-13 academic year) and has contributed more than $25,000 since partnering with the Make-A Wish® organization.

If you are unable to attend the game/ceremony in person, it can be viewed via this link: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/saintleo.portal.