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Student-athletes impact local, global communities through volunteering

Many Brown teams are paired with severely sick children through the Team Impact program

At the end of April, Caroline King ’13, a forward on the women’s basketball team, will travel to western Nepal to continue her work with Nyaya Health, an organization focused on providing medical care in the area. King is also the founder of Hoops for Hope, a program that has partnered with the Providence chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise around $2,000 and is based partly on the men’s ice hockey program Goals for Good. King has also volunteered at two local elementary schools, one of which is the Vartan Gregorian Elementary school at Fox Point.

King was honored for her efforts with a selection to the inaugural Allstate WBCA Good Works team last month, and is one of many student-athletes at Brown who regularly volunteer their time to various causes and programs.

“We’re representing more than just ourselves, and there’s a larger impact we can make outside of just one person,” King said.

The program at Fox Point elementary is the athletic department’s largest community service initiative, and the partnership has existed since 1991. Each participating team works with its own class and, several times each month, visits the students.

Director of Athletics Jack Hayes said Fox Point has been “very happy” with the partnership, adding that he plans for the program to continue, as Brown students can “offer so much” to the community.

“We’re always going to want to try to assist the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island and all the neighboring communities in any way that we can,” Hayes said.

Another program in which many squads participate is Team Impact, which pairs severely sick children with collegiate teams to raise their spirits. Ryan Jacobson ’15, a forward on the men’s hockey team, worked with Team Impact alongside his teammates when they were paired with Ethan, an eight year old diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2011. Jacobson said the team enjoyed interacting with Ethan and participating in activities with him, such as having him come to home games.

“He’s like part of the team,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson added that he thought it was important Ethan had the opportunity to play hockey, which Jacobson said is “his favorite thing.”

“With a life-threatening disease, you don’t know if that opportunity will come around again,” Jacobson said.

Ethan’s doctor “called him a survivor” Thursday on his Facebook page, Prayers 4 Ethan.

In another pairing through Team Impact, Katie Jamieson ’13, a guard on the women’s ice hockey team, was in charge of organizing activities for Angelica, then a nine-year-old girl who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. Jamieson and the team shared various moments with Angelica, like going out for ice cream and stepping out onto the ice. Jamieson has also done work for women who are victims of domestic violence with the Women’s Center of Rhode Island.

Jamieson said she thinks it is important for her to help build her community.

“I think we’ve all had really great opportunities handed to us,” Jamieson said. “And I think it’s important to give back.” Jamieson said she also plans to continue her community service after graduation. Jamieson, who is applying to complete a masters of public health at Brown, said if she is still in Providence next year, she will continue to work with Team Impact and see Angelica.

Lars Tiffany ’90, head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, is partly responsible for his team’s largest community service program. The squad was initially inspired in 2006 by the efforts of teammate Patrick Cook-Deegan ’08, who had raised $22,500 for Room to Read by biking 2,800 miles through southeast Asia, The Herald previously reported.

While debating the best means of fundraising, Tiffany suggested a 36-hour run. By the end of the run, the team had raised $18,000 to build a school in Sri Lanka. Since then, the lacrosse team has had an annual 36-hour run to raise funds for a variety of causes, chosen by the members of the squad. This year, the team raised money for the Healing Arts program at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.

“It was so well-received and we felt great to help others,” Tiffany said. “We run for 36 hours, but the organization never rests in their mission … so we don’t deserve too much credit.”


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