Friday, December 10, 2010
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 9, 2010) - Santa and his elves made a surprise visit to the Mini Dome Thursday evening, as the ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics partnered with Coalition for Kids to celebrate "A Buccaneer Christmas."
This annual "ABC" event - which is held for local children in need - had a lot of groups assisting in putting together the special celebration including: ETSU Athletics, the Alcohol Awareness Task Force, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), S&M Amusements and Clarence Mabe.
Thursday's one-hour event began at 6 p.m. with roughly 60 children from Coalition for Kids entering the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center to interact with ETSU scholar-athletes and meet Santa. The children were fed dinner and also given the chance to decorate cookies with the athletes.
Prior to Santa arriving, sophomore women's soccer player Charlotte Summerall (St. Augustine, Fla.) gathered the children together for a reading of "Twas the Night before Christmas." Once Santa and his elves arrived, the children were escorted by ETSU student-athletes to meet Kris Kringle and receive a special stocking full of goodies.
"Our entire department looks forward to this event every year, for it affords us a great opportunity to remind our student-athletes of the importance of service, generosity, gratitude, joy and the true meaning of Christmas," said Bob Baker, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Services. "It is a rare occasion that we get to personally witness this level of joy, giving and love for others occurring at one time in one place for over 300 young people. As much as the kids love the attention, gifts and getting to see Santa Claus, personally I believe our student-athletes get more out of this experience than anyone."
The event was initially spearheaded by head strength and conditioning coach Lee Morrow, and it has continued to grow throughout the years as different groups within the community and ETSU have taken the initiative to make this a special evening for the children.
"Coach Morrow initiated the event years ago and I think it gets more enjoyable each year," added Baker. "I feel fortunate to have a role in its planning. Randy Hensley from Coalition for Kids, Barbie Breedlove, Brian Johnston and his staff, Coach Morrow, Clarence Mabe, our Student-Athlete Advisory Council, all of our student-athletes and our entire athletic department collaborate to make this event occur and it really sends us into Christmas break with the right spirit and attitude."
The gifts for this event were donated by Clarence Mabe from S&M Amusements.
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics takes pride in its community service activities and strives for 100 percent participation from its student-athletes, coaches and administrators throughout the year.
For more information on Buccaneer community service efforts, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.