Over the summer, sophomore middle blocker Regan Pittman came across a video of a child suffering from pediatric cancer who wanted to wear gold to a Taylor Swift concert. The video urged Pittman to push for a goal beyond the volleyball court.
"I had a dream ... after watching the video that every kill ... I got in the month of September would [make me] donate to the cause," Pittman said.
After that, Pittman sought out guidance on fundraiser organizing. She eventually connected with the University of Minnesota Foundation to set up a campaign named Killin' It For A Cure and a crowdfund page for online donations. All funds benefit the pediatric oncology research fund at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
"Anytime Minnesota records a "kill" in the month of September, $1 will be donated to the cause," according to the campaign's crowdfund page.
"They wanted to come up with some sort of fundraiser where Regan could give back to our children's hospital and do it through the entire Minnesota volleyball team's performance," said Kaela Anderson, the associate development officer of community partnerships of the University of Minnesota Foundation.
Through the month of September, Pittman racked up 53 kills as part of the Gophers' 431 total kills in nine matches. Although its initial goal was $1,000, the campaign has raised a total of $1,232.00 so far due to the team's kills and donations from community members, teammates' family members and Pittman herself.
"To have a select few athletes to really connect with the mission and vision of the hospital and give back is really awesome," Anderson said.
Sophomore Stephanie Samedy said these types of fundraisers present people with a different side of college athletes.
"I think it shows that we are aren't just athletes, we don't just ... play volleyball," Samedy said. "It's really about ... being decent human beings and caring about the community and doing anything we can."
Pittman said that she decided to do the campaign through the volleyball program to help spread awareness further than she could on her own.
"[The message is] using something you're good at to make other people better," Pittman said. "Doing your best for other reasons beside you."
Pittman plans to visit the hospital in the near future.
"Even a five-minute visit from [student-athletes] means the world to them," Anderson said. "It's a little break in the action for these patients and parents."
Pittman said she plans to keep the fundraising campaign going next year.