CMU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee helps 17Strong Foundation fund ‘victory trips’

At nearly every Colorado Mesa athletic event, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee runs a split-the-pot raffle, with CMU’s cut traditionally benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Last school year, the Mavericks decided to help one of their own, so the majority of the raffle proceeds went to the 17Strong Foundation, the non-profit organization founded by CMU baseball player Ryan Teixeira, who died in March after fights with Ewings sarcoma and acute myeloid leukemia.

Austin Kaiser, the Mavericks’ assistant athletic director who is the SAAC advisor, sent Teixeira’s foundation a check for $7,017.17. He said future SAAC raffles will benefit 17Strong and local charities.

On Thursday, that money helped fund three “victory trips,” the vision Teixeira had for his foundation.

Steve and Holly Teixeira, Ryan’s parents, announced Thursday night that the foundation was funding three victory trips to young adults who won their battles against cancer.

Steve Teixeira said when the 17Strong “Whipped Cream Challenge” began this summer that although the foundation was in its infancy, he and his wife were determined to raise enough money to award at least one trip this year, noting the significance of ‘17, saying, “This is our year.”

Mellissa Matheson, from Orcutt, California, and her husband, Ryan, will travel to the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Matheson is a breast cancer survivor.

Jimmy Alridge, also from Orcutt, is a colon cancer survivor, and will travel to Tokyo with a friend. Ryan MacKereth of Lompoc, who beat testicular cancer, and his wife Jessie, will take an Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon — most of the nursing student’s savings for their honeymoon went to pay his medical bills.

Teixeira chose the number 17 when he was 10 years old after learning that the biblical meaning of 17 is “victory.” When he was in the hospital during his senior year of high school after the tumor in his right leg was discovered, he was approached about a Make-A-Wish trip. Because he was 18, however, that foundation said he had aged out of its program, which led to him deciding to start his own foundation for young adults.

Donations can be made to the foundation and 17Strong apparel, including wristbands, caps, shirts and sweatshirts, can be purchased at seventeenstrong.org.

Helping hurricane victims: Kaiser shipped eight cases of CMU apparel to help Hurricane Harvey victims this week in response to University of Houston basketball coach’s Kelvin Sampson’s social media plea for teams to send 20 T-shirts and 10 pair of shoes.

The Twitter post went viral, and the university has been inundated with thousands of cases of clothing from colleges, high schools, clubs and businesses. CMU student-athletes cleaned out their closets and donated gently worn CMU shirts and sweatshirts, and coaches added boxes of team and camp shirts.


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