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Student-athletes help out La. flood victims

Seven Coastal Carolina University student-athletes and two administrative staffers recently took two days out of their academic and work schedules to travel from Conway to Lafayette, La., to deliver a truckload of donated items, mostly cleaning supplies, to victims of the recent Louisiana flood. They also helped sort doanted items from all over the country at a large distribution center in Baton Rouge.

The initiative, coordinated by Cari Rosiek, associate athletic director, culminated on campus with the Day of Giving on Sept. 8. For two weeks, the CCU community was asked to donate items toward flood relief and fill up a truck. A tractor-trailer packed with the donations traveled to St. Martinsville, La., where it was met by the CCU students. The truck was donated by Lewis Truck Lines, owned and operated by CCU alumnus Ty Anthony.

The CCU crew flew to Baton Rouge, then made the hourlong drive to St. Martinsville/LaFayette, where they partnered with University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL), a fellow Sun Belt conference member, to unload the truck. The donated items were distributed by United Way of Acadiana.

Jenna Stover, a women’s lacrosse player, was so impressed with the trip and delivery of the collected supplies that she made it her capstone project for graduation.

“I wanted to do something out of the ordinary, something that had meaning and purpose,” said Stover, who is majoring in communication with a public health minor. “This opportunity was exactly what I was picturing. I have always heard that doing something for someone who cannot repay you is a euphoric feeling. When we reached Louisiana, I was very excited to be able to help those who lost everything.

“It was an amazing feeling, being able to team up with our competitors for something bigger than both of us combined,” said Stover. “We put aside our new rivalry as Sun Belt teams and worked together to ensure that all items were safely off the truck and loaded into the shelter. After all the items were unloaded, I walked through the shelter feeling proud of Coastal for all the contributions.”

"We may be competitors on fields of play, but we are brothers united by a common understanding of human need,” said Margaret Trahan, United Way of Arcadiana president. “Thousands of homes in the region were affected by the floods.”

Sylvana Okde, a ULL women’s basketball player, said in a TV interview, “It’s amazing! For a conference to come together – you’re rivals on the field, but off the field, you come together for the same cause. It’s amazing for them to do this.”

In addition to Stover, CCU student-athletes who went on the relief trip were Emma Kroger, Kelsey Briggs, Anacia Hines and Cari Pallini, all women’s track & field; Brandon Johnson, men’s track & field; and States Fort, men’s golf. Rosiek was joined by Alex Souza, CCU’s director of gameday experience and promotions.

“I feel that everyone needs to experience something like this once in their lifetime because, as cliched as it sounds, it absolutely changed my perspective toward life and has immensely increased my appreciation for life and all that comes with it,” said Stover.

Souza said the student-athletes became emotional and tearful as they drove around the area, surveying the damage the flood caused. "They made me so proud to be an alum," he said. "They were an amazing group of students."

Rosiek shared these numbers:

“Items donated: 25,000
Miles traveled: 1,900
Hours volunteered: 400
Lives touched: Priceless.”

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