UIC Softball Teams Up Against Cancer With FLAMEingo Drive Initiative

The FLAMEingo Drive has raised nearly $1,500.
The FLAMEingo Drive has raised nearly $1,500.

March 5, 2013

To Donate to the FLAMEingo Drive

From: Coryn Schmit

To: Robbin Cooley

Sat., Nov. 24, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.

Hi Robbin!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving! So, Devin [Miller], Mel [Preish] and I were talking last week before we left for break and we were thinking that for our senior year we would like to try to raise money for our breast cancer awareness day. We were thinking about doing a t-shirt sale in the quad and another fundraiser along those same lines. We also know a few kids in the kinesiology club who we could talk to and see if they would be willing to help and maybe sell t-shirts at the game that day. We were thinking the proceeds could potentially go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Anyways, I just wanted to bounce the idea off you and see what you thought. Thanks!!!


The senior class's idea of raising money for breast cancer began with a conversation. Schmit and her teammates could have talked about anything that day; their plans for break, how they would spend Thanksgiving, what classes they plan to take next semester, but they chose to talk about making a difference. They wanted to take their team's Breast Cancer Awareness game and make it something more.

Since that initial e-mail on Nov. 24, Schmit and her teammates have brainstormed a wide-range of ideas of how to raise money; selling t-shirts, bracelets, sending out letters and a handful more that were halted due to NCAA regulations.

From: Coryn Schmit

To: Robbin Cooley

Sat., Dec. 29, 2012 at 7:45 p.m.

Hey Robbin,

So, I checked with Shannon [Norkus] about our idea to sell tickets based on the Super Bowl and she said it is considered gambling, so we aren't allowed to do it. She said anything in which a person pays money in the hopes of receiving more money in return is considered gambling. I have another idea though :) and I was wondering if I could stop in and talk to you about it sometime this week?




Schmit stopped in on Jan. 3, during winter break with the team's new and improved idea: FLAMEingo Drive.

"Okay, so we have the idea of a FLAMEingo Drive," Schmit said. "It is a donation-based drive. We thought using a flamingo would be good because pink is the color used in association with breast cancer and the flamingo is a good play-on-words with Flames. We want to use a flamingo to visually represent every 10 dollars we raise. We then plan to display the flamingos the day of our breast cancer game, so people can see how they contributed to the cause. Then, the following day we plan to hand out the flamingos to students and fans at the game."

Just as soon as the idea was born, it took off.

The members of the team first appeared with their flamingos at a men's basketball game against Loyola on Jan. 16, and then they were seen at the men's gymnastics Windy City event on Jan. 19.

It wasn't long before they made their next step in FLAMEingo Drive. With the help of head coach Michelle Venturella, the Flames teamed up with the American Cancer Society to set up a donation website .

Now, in just over a month the team has raised 1,490 dollars as of Feb. 18, just 34 days later.

"I haven't been as much surprised by how many people are willing to donate, but the amount people are willing to donate," junior Natalie Hernandez said. "On one plane ride alone we collected almost 400 dollars."

Hernandez, along with senior Melissa Preish have a strong connection to cancer with Hernandez's mother currently battling cancer and Preish's father who overcame a bout with throat cancer.

"When I told my parents and aunt about the FLAMEingo Drive they were so happy and donated right away," Hernandez said. "They would even give money and say `this is for you mom, put this in there for her.' I have already donated around 40 dollars and when I put money in I feel like I am doing it for her."

"It has been great to see the response from people," Preish said. "I am shocked by how much money we have already been able to raise. I think people like the idea and because so many people on the team have personal connections to the cause with various forms of cancer. I think my dad's story is a good connection to the cause because he battled it and everything turned out alright."

"I am so proud of our student-athletes for coming up with this wonderful idea to raise awareness and money for such a great cause," Venturella said. "I believe actions speak louder than words and this group certainly proves this to be true. Our kids are so busy with the demands of being Division I student-athletes, yet they still make time for such a great cause."

"The FLAMEingo Drive is something we want to be remembered by outside of just playing on the field," Venturella said. "It is something bigger than winning and losing; it is going toward a good cause and helping other people."