April 25, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - In just four nights last week, 350 student-athletes contacted more than 7,700 John Purdue Club members not for a donation but rather to simply say "Thanks."
Representatives from all 18 Purdue sports teams took part in the annual John Purdue Club Thank-a-Thon, reaching out to members and expressing their gratitude via telephone calls and hand-written letters.
In each session, former Purdue softball pitcher Katie Hackney and former football letterwinner Chris Clopton, now both members of the John Purdue Club staff, explained the background of the JPC and how student-athlete scholarships, academic resources and facilities are all here because of its 8,000 donors.
A couple of highlights from this educational introduction included the fact that the Purdue athletics department is one of only seven self-sufficient NCAA Division I-A programs in the country and that the John Purdue Club and Varsity P Club are the only two organizations which directly fund Purdue athletics.
"Being a former student-athlete, I know it is easy to get caught up in how difficult it is to compete in Division I athletics while being a full-time student," Hackney said. "The thank-a-thon can help bring perspective to the chances student-athletes have to earn a degree from Purdue and compete in the Big Ten Conference. It is so important to show appreciation to John Purdue Club members who have provided these opportunities."
After realizing that without John Purdue Club members, Purdue athletics would be a very different department, the student-athletes were off to make calls and write postcards to directly acknowledge those who support them.
"I think it made an impact because people sounded really excited to talk to the student-athletes," senior football player Cody Davis said. "Doing little things like this makes a huge difference."
While other universities around the country are experiencing their inaugural year-end thank-a-thons, the John Purdue Club has been engaged in this event for more than a decade.
As Nancy Cross, senior associate athletics director and leader of the John Purdue Club said, "I love the annual John Purdue Club Thank-a-Thon because it's a win-win on many levels. First, it's a way for our very generous and supportive JPC members to hear directly from our student-athletes how thankful and appreciative they are. Second, it's an NCAA-compliant method of connecting our student-athletes with donors. Third, and most important, the thank-a-thon is a tremendous tool in reinforcing the message with our student-athletes that their opportunities to earn Purdue degrees, compete at the highest levels and access state-of-the-art facilities are because of the people they talked to last week."
And it seems the message has resonated loud and clear. Junior Courtney Moses of the women's basketball team understands the true purpose of the thank-a-thon and was impacted by the night.
"Most of today's younger, technology-filled generation has forgotten how genuine a hand-written letter or phone call is," Moses said. "This is a great experience and reminder to each student-athlete that there is a team behind our team giving us the opportunity to achieve our dreams. Without the support of all John Purdue Club members, most of our experiences at Purdue would not be possible."