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UNG national leader for Make-A-Wish initiative

MAW leader 2017
Alexis Mendoza (center) is surrounded by the UNG women's soccer team, Athletic Director Lindsay Reeves, Head Coach Chris Adams, Nigel the Nighthawk, and other UNG athletes and staff as she signs a one-day contract to be part of the women's soccer team.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) raised more money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2015-16 than any other NCAA Division II school, marking the fourth time the university has led the division.

UNG set a new record with $34,000 raised, beating its own high mark of $21,413 in 2013-14 and setting a new record for the highest single-season donation by an NCAA Division II school.

"This new high mark is a testament to the importance our student-athletes place on making a positive impact in their communities and in the lives of others," said Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics at UNG. "We can't say enough about how hard they work to see the wishes of these brave children come true, and thanks to those efforts, each of the past five years has seen our university play host to one of the most joyous occasions one can witness in collegiate sports."

In fall 2016, the Nighthawks hosted Alexis Mendoza as a member of the UNG women's soccer team. After participating in the starting lineups and national anthem as an honorary 12th starter, university personnel escorted Carter to a VIP tailgate area where she met with numerous UNG athletic teams, the UNG cheer squad, Charlie Company of UNG's Corps of Cadets, and other various student organizations.

Backed by members of both the men's and women's soccer teams and the UNG cheerleaders, Carter officially signed on as a member of the UNG women's soccer team, with accompanying signatures from Reeves and Chris Adams, head women's soccer coach. 

UNG is now engaged in its 2016-17 Make-A-Wish fundraising campaign, which will culminate on Mar. 27 with the 2nd Annual Run with Nigel Run/Walk on the university's Dahlonega Campus.

Since 2010, UNG has raised more than $107,000 for Make-A-Wish, having raised at least $10,000 in every year since 2010-11 — more than 10 wishes have been granted from the university's efforts. UNG has also won the Peach Belt Conference's Make-A-Wish Award, named after former UNG student-athlete LeeAnn Noble, for five consecutive years.

Division II schools raised more than $608,000 for Make-A-Wish during the 2015-16 academic year, marking the fifth consecutive year the division has set a fundraising record. The division has raised more than $4.7 million for Make-A-Wish since beginning its partnership with the nonprofit 13 years ago. Those funds have been used to grant nearly 600 wishes for children around the country who face life-threatening medical conditions.

The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) established the partnership with Make-A-Wish in 2003. In 2015-16, five schools raised above the national average cost of a wish reveal — $9,500 — and automatically earned a wish reveal party. For an additional 21 schools, which all raised $5,000 or more, SAAC will award money to help the schools meet the minimum fundraising requirement for a wish reveal.

"The fundraising effort for Make-A-Wish is so important because it provides SAAC and Division II athletes the chance to realize the positive impact they can have in someone's life," said Christopher Pike, a former football student-athlete at Gannon University and former Division II SAAC chair. "Division II SAAC couldn't be more pleased with this year's Make-A-Wish efforts, and we continually hope that we as a division can keep raising the bar because together we are making a huge difference."

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