Purdue Crew rowing club raised money in the annual Row-A-Thon fundraiser on Saturday. Proceeds from the event, which took place in the Cordova Recreational Sports Center, went to the Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Good Samaritan Fund.
The Good Samaritan Fund is a program led by LUM that financially aids members of the Lafayette community in need. The program can help aid in costs for utility bills, rent and prescription medications, according to the LUM webpage.
“It’s really important for our athletes to be in touch with the service-oriented side of things,” said Kelsey D’Amico, president of Purdue Crew and a senior studying animal sciences. “It’s a really unique thing of a club program. We can kinda do athletics, do academics and also be a part of community outreach.”
Student-athletes sat at rowing machines in the Feature Gym of the Co-Rec, with each rowing 20,000 meters in three hours. In past years, D’Amico said, the athletes had to row 32,000 meters. Due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the required distance was reduced to 20,000 and groups of participants were staggered throughout the day.
The work to put on the fundraiser starts months before any student athlete rows, D’Amico said. To raise money, the club members each wrote 10 letters to friends and family to explain the club and members’ passion for the cause.
The letters are important, said Jason Mitchell, an assistant coach for Crew. Of all the funds raised, around 95% come from outside the West Lafayette community, often from the people contacted in the letters. The team raised $22,000 in 2020.
The amount of money raised this year had not been totaled as of Sunday night.
There are 11 seniors on the rowing team this semester, and the Row-A-Thon is significant for these graduating athletes, D’Amico said.
It was important for the seniors to host this event despite the challenges of the pandemic, D’Amico said. The event is a tradition and this is the senior members’ last chance to participate.
D’Amico said the community’s need for this fundraiser and LUM fund has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“I think the fact that we are able to raise significant funds to donate to LUM, I view it as particularly important,” D’Amico said. “And I am very thankful to the people who generously considered donating given that everyone else is going through tough times at the moment.”
LUM gave about $230,000 to people struggling with financial insecurity in 2020, according to its website. That total, which served more than 2,000 families and helped to avert hundreds of evictions, is more than twice the amount the organization distributed in 2019.
The team’s desire to host the event is to thank for its success, Mitchell said. Members of the club worked together to develop solutions to obstacles ahead of the fundraiser, such as the event’s promotion.
In previous years, the Row-A-Thon was held at the Tippecanoe Mall. Crew’s ability to hold physical events in public is one of the most crucial methods for raising awareness for local fundraising, Mitchell said.
“We’ll usually get a considerable amount of people to come by and ask what’s going on and want to talk to us about it,” D’Amico said.
Jahn said she is sad that the event was not held in the mall. Nevertheless, she said she is happy the members of the club were still able to host the event.
This year, the event’s promotion emphasized social media to compensate for the club’s inability to physically interact with the community, Jahn said.
Spectators were not allowed to watch the fundraiser in the Co-Rec. Jahn said live updates were added to their Instagram page to provide live engagement for those who would normally attend in person.
D’Amico said although the “mindset” of running the event is different, her mission and motivation for the fundraiser had not changed. The event is a way for the student-athletes to show support for the local community.
“You still come and do your part to help out,” D’Amico said, “and make the most of what we have.”