This past weekend, women’s soccer team captains Theresa Huckaby ’22 and Ailish O’Brian ’22, alongside women’s volleyball captains Emily King ’21 and Ashley Williams ’21, raised $2,905 for the nonprofit organization Maine Inside Out (MIO) through a virtual 5k fundraiser.
In order to enter the event, participants made online donations to the MIO, an organization which holds theater programs at Maine’s juvenile correctional facility. Then, sometime during the weekend of September 19, participants walked, ran or swam a 5k. Additionally, participants could post a picture of their activity for a chance to be featured on the women’s soccer or volleyball teams’ Instagram pages.
“We wanted to support a local organization,” said King in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “That was one of the biggest things.”
The captains wanted to support an organization that engaged in anti-racism work. In their Instagram post, the group highlighted some of the key campaigns MIO runs.
Located in Portland, MIO has created a safe space for incarcerated kids and those who have been harmed by structural racism. It provides programming for the local community that aims to start and support the movement for transformative justice. MIO was created to help communities recognize the systemic roots of oppression and crime.
Through art, advocacy training, and transformative justice, MIO practices a community model for social change,” wrote the organizers of the event in the caption of an Instagram post.
With students spread across the country and beyond, the captains had to get creative. Luckily, already being fluent in Zoom and familiar with distance learning, organizing an entirely virtual event was a walk in the park for them.
“We did a really good job of constantly communicating with each other and keeping each other updated… all of [it] went really smoothly and well, given the circumstances,” said Williams.
Given the nature of the fundraiser, there is no way to know exactly how many people donated. However, unlike typical in-person fundraisers, the online structure of the 5k allowed for a wider range of participants; even alumni got involved.
“Social media is such a big resource for us,” said Huckaby. “All of our teammates were able to share with their families through Facebook, Instagram, really any platform they could.”
King agreed with this sentiment and acknowledged athletes were not the only participants.
“It was nice everyone getting their family and friends involved,” said King. “Seeing everyone’s pictures, it was really awesome to see how many people were dedicated to this cause.”
The virtual fall semester has allowed sports teams to prioritize giving back to the community in a manner that a regular fall season would not. Although someday the pandemic will fade, virtual fundraisers may not.
“This would be a really cool tradition,” said Williams, “that both of our programs could continue to support moving forward.”
For student-athletes, the beginning of the academic year is usually spent getting to know teammates and preparing for the fall season. Instead, in an era of Zoom calls and remote learning, Bowdoin athletes have had to redefine what it means to be on a team.