With spring in full bloom and Maryland Day right around the corner, Maryland student-athletes are gearing up to put on one of the year’s most anticipated events.
This weekend, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosts its 5th annual FanFest. This festival allows Terp athletes to engage and interact with the Maryland campus and community and fundraise for good causes.
On Saturday after the Maryland Football spring game, at approximately 2:00 p.m., activities hosted by Maryland Student-Athletes such as face painting, pie in the face, a social bingo board, and a water balloon toss will be taking place at the West Concourse.
Not only that, but the Terps will also participate in a “Polar Bear Plunge,” which has become a tradition in the state of Maryland for the past 25 years, where people jump into icy waters to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics.
Student-athletes from across the sports spectrum are organizing and coordinating the events with SAAC President and softball star Katie Dustin front and center of the festivities.
“I am so excited for FanFest this year!” Dustin said. “Fan Fest is a great way to come together as a Maryland athletics community and support Special Olympics and their athletes. I know we are especially excited to have the opportunity to dunk some of our support staff!”
Here’s how you can participate:
Help us reach this goal by donating and sharing this with your teammates, coworkers, friends, and family by following the steps below:
If you’d like to participate by taking the plunge, please email Sydnee Strong, Community Engagement intern at [email protected].
SAAC has set a goal to raise $10,000 and is still accepting donations to reach its goal. All proceeds will go to the Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund and Special Olympics Maryland.
The SAAC is a leadership group comprised of student-athlete representatives across every sport within Maryland Athletics. Members of SAAC serve the entire-athlete body through their dedication to acting as liaisons between student-athletes, the athletic administration, and the NCAA, along with building and strengthening campus-wide relationships.
SAAC’s mission is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by cultivating skills and service initiatives, promoting student-athlete welfare, and enhancing the student-athlete voice. FanFest is one of the keystone events that allows student-athletes to give back to the community in a fun setting.
Maryland student-athletes lives are incredibly busy with training, practices, games, and schoolwork, but they still make the time for charitable events and community service. FanFest has become a favorite amongst the student-athletes as it allows them to interact with the community they represent on the field, court, track, course, and mat.
“The SAAC Fan Fest and Polar Plunge is an awesome event that unifies the community,” women’s soccer player Catherine DeRosa said. “As a student-athlete, I see so much value in giving back to the community, and this is a fun way that I can do that. I can’t wait to see other student-athletes, members of the community, and Terp Nation at the SAAC FanFest and Polar Plunge!”
Carrie Blankenship is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at Maryland and a member of the Athletic Director’s Executive Leadership Team. Blankenship is excited to see current Terps ready and willing to give back as a former student-athlete herself.
Community Engagement Intern for the University of Maryland athletic department Sydnee Strong has taken on the initiative of helping Maryland student-athletes put on FanFest and other events throughout the calendar year.
Like Blankenship, Strong is excited about the proactiveness that Terp athletes have shown.
“Maryland student-athletes are eager to give back to the community,” Strong said. “You make time for what you enjoy and what you love to do, and that’s what they are doing with FanFest. They’re passionate about their sports, and SAAC shows that they care about the community and those who pay money to support them as well. This is a way for them to support the community and give the opportunity to fans of all ages.”
The Maryland athletes who make up SAAC come from all different backgrounds but have come together to expand upon the one thing they all have in common: a love for Terp fans, the underserved, and the rest of the community.
“FanFest is a fantastic opportunity for all athletic teams, Maryland fans, and the community to come together to raise awareness about our partnerships that we work with,” field hockey player Belle Bressler said. “It’s important for our student-athletes to connect with the community, organizations, and our fans to celebrate our amazing campus!”
With FanFest just days away, SAAC urges Terp fans to donate to their cause and help their partners like the Terrapin Club and the Special Olympics. This weekend will feature one of the biggest events of the year in College Park, and it’s a chance to meet your favorite Terps, have some fun, and show off your Maryland pride while helping out a good cause.
“FanFest is an awesome time in College Park for the whole school and community to get together,” wrestler Michael North said. “Spring is here, the weather is getting beautiful, and we can all have fun as Terps to celebrate this place. Come out to College Park, and it’s going to be a blast.”
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