Giving blankets to hospital a gratifying experience for group of Mesa athletes

Wrestler Bobby Davis, left, and soccer player Ethan Johnson tie the edges of a blanket recently, one of 10 made by Colorado Mesa University athletes. The blankets are destined for Community Hospital.

All tied up: Colorado Mesa University athletes and coaches spend an evening together tying 10 blankets for Community Hospital. Clockwise from left are Melissa Miller, assistant cheer coach; Connor Hill with the cross-country and track and field teams; Shane Niksic, also with the track and field and cross-country teams; Geordan Brewer with the track and field team; and Veronica Rodriguez with the women’s soccer team.

Her arms laden with blankets, Vee Edstrom, left, walks through the emergency room doors at Community Hospital with Rachel Boothe of the Colorado Mesa University softball team as Boothe and three other CMU students deliver blankets that were tied by athletes from various sports at the university.Following behind the pair with more blankets that will be given to children at the hospital, are, from left to right, track and field and cross country runner Shane Niksic, lacrosse player Justin Malloy and basketball player Chandler Burgon.

Everyone loves receiving gifts this time of year, but several Colorado Mesa University athletes made sure people who don’t have a lot will receive something, too.

The CMU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee tied blankets a couple weeks ago and donated them to Community Hospital patients.

“It’s always an awesome thing to get gifts, especially for those in the hospital that are having a hard time,” CMU junior volleyball player Sunni Rae Baird said. “It’s also good for us to give things to other people.”

It is the second consecutive year the committee has tied blankets and donated them. Last year, they donated the blankets to hospitalized children. The committee consists of 66 student-athletes.

“(Former Mesa tennis player) Victoria Sargent had the idea to get this started,” committee adviser Kris Mort said. “We made it our Christmas party event. We tie blankets and (Colorado Mesa team doctor Danny) Mistry helps us disseminate them to patients in the hospital.”

Mort got the cloth and fixed a pot of chili for the student-athletes for a blanket-tying get-together.

A couple of days later, a few of the student-athletes delivered the 10 blankets to Community Hospital.

Making and donating blankets to patients was especially gratifying to Baird, who grew up going on mission trips with her church in Bloomfield, N.M.

“We do a lot of volunteer work for homeless shelters and that kind of thing, so it’s always been a big passion for me,” Baird said. “It’s kind of an unreal thing. It gives you a reality check on how blessed you are. That’s why I love it so much.

“(Underprivileged) people see so much unhappiness in life, you don’t understand. The little things mean so much to them.”

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee participates in several community events each year.

The group participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program, cleaning up trash from the side of an area highway, goes door-to-door to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and operates the concession stand at athletic events.

Community activities are just a slice of what the it does each year, but baseball player Colton Little, the group’s president, said it’s probably the most important activity.

“The main thing is we’re getting involved in the community,” Little said. “I think a good example is the Trick or Treat Street event we do.

“We go around dressed in our game jerseys door to door as part of SAAC and we’re asking for spare change for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. People appreciate the fact that we present ourselves and it’s going to a good cause.”

Little’s involvement spurred teammate Nolan Snell to get involved in the committee.

“When people come and watch games, they know we’re helping the community out and giving back to them,” the junior pitcher said. “We’re not just doing this for ourselves, but we’re giving back to the community.”

Snell has coached Special Olympics gymnastics and bowling back home in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sophomore tennis player Kaylee Davis believes getting involved in the community helps the community get to know the CMU student-athletes and keeps them mindful of others.

“In college, you are so focused on school and grades,” she said. “This reminds us in the grand scheme of things how lucky we are. We’re still able to do things because we are so well off.”

The Abilene, Texas, native is participating for the first time after transferring from a junior college.

Participating in committee activities has not only been rewarding for the student-athletes, it’s been educational.

“This is new,” sophomore lacrosse player Trace Wollner said. “I had no idea what tying blankets was or how making blankets was possible, but it’s a rewarding activity we’re doing here.”


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