Concordia football aligns with Kids and Dreams to support autism awareness
SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia University student Johanna Meyer is spearheading a movement on campus to support children with autism through the Kids and Dreams Foundation. Meyer and others from the organization will be selling T-shirts to raise money for Kids and Dreams at Saturday’s home-opening football game versus Hastings. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium.
Junior defensive lineman Ron Jackson has helped inspire full support of the initiative from his teammates. Throughout his seven-year tenure, head coach Vance Winter has encouraged his athletes to engage in community service. Concordia football players lend a hand to the Seward community through programs like Borrow a Bulldog and Bulldog Buddies, which affords Bulldogs a chance to read to elementary students in local classrooms. Last season the football program also got behind the “Play for Parker” campaign that raised money for an Omaha child with cancer.
Proceeds from Saturday’s Kids and Dreams event, including T-shirt sales ($10 per shirt on game day) and freewill donations, will be put specifically towards an educational autism conference in Kearney on Oct. 2 and for a Kids and Dreams summer camp (Operation Shine Camp) near Central City, Neb., in 2016. Winter expects many of his players to take part in the camp, set to be held next June. For more information on Kids and Dreams, visit the organization’s website at kidsanddreams.org.
Meyer, an elementary education major with an emphasis in special education, hails from Shelton, Neb., where Kids and Dreams was founded. Meyer serves the foundation as a board member and finds the work particularly rewarding.
“I have always been very passionate about children and working with them,” Meyer said. “I have had quite a few volunteering experiences working with children with special needs. I was inspired to become more involved with the foundation due to my love for these special children.”
Says Jackson, “I really loved what the foundation was doing. I think it’s really cool what they are doing for children with autism. Football is all about teamwork. With this organization and through teamwork, we can limit the amount of autistic children being bullied.”
Fans in attendance can purchase “Dream Big” T-shirts and make donations at Saturday’s game by visiting the tables set up on the stadium concourse. Among Concordia football players, quarterback TJ Austin has also pitched in considerably by selling T-shirts.
Operation Shine Camp provides an opportunity for autistic children ages 7-12 to “get away and let their light shine.”
Says Meyer of the alignment with Saturday’s football game, “We are dreaming big and hoping for lots of support.”