UIC Student-Athletes Sponsor a Family for Christmas

SAAC secretary and WBB player Heidi Dahnke jokes with Mary as she opens her gifts.

SAAC secretary and WBB player Heidi Dahnke jokes with Mary as she opens her gifts.

Dec. 21, 2012

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CHICAGO – The Holidays are a time for giving and spending with family, which is exactly what representatives of the UIC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) did this past Thursday night (Dec. 22).  Although it wasn’t their immediate family, the SAAC members adopted one through the Salvation Army’s Sponsor-a-Family for Christmas program.

The family they sponsored consisted of three siblings that had recently fallen on very hard times.  Their mother had passed away in March of 2012 after being notified she had breast cancer and HLH just two months prior to her death.  HLH is a rare life-threatening immunodeficiency, which causes inflammation in the brain and numerous neurological problems.  Neither disease was spotted in time for treatment.

After the unforeseen passing, the oldest sibling Mary, aged 23, was left to care for her 17-year old sister Addie and 13-year old brother Dennis.  Dennis requires extra attention as he has been diagnosed as autistic.  The trio lives together and sometimes struggle to make ends meet.

“This has been a really tough year for us,” said Mary.  “It was hard to have any Christmas spirit.”

So one can imagine her enjoyment when members of the UIC SAAC surprised her family with gifts at the local Salvation Army just five days before Christmas.  The family received new clothes, electronics, movies, blankets, gift cards etc…

“I just really appreciate it,” said a choked-up Mary as she began to speak of her mother.

The SAAC members raised more than $700 with most of the donations coming from UIC student-athletes, coaches and staff.

If you would like to make a donation to the Salvation Army please visit their website.