AU’s baseball team is gearing up for another season, but their focus this offseason has been on something larger. The team has been partnered with Secret Families of Madison County, a nonprofit providing Christmas presents for less fortunate families around the county, for several years now. Head coach Matt Bair wanted to take things further this season.
“A couple of years ago when I took the job at AU, I was introduced to this ministry here in town,” said Bair. “They provided us an opportunity to go to Meijer with the funds they raised and bring Christmas to lots of families around the county. It’s great that we can go over there and shop, but I had been thinking of ways that we can financially help or contribute to the cause to increase the number of families that we can serve.”
This is where Bair and his coaching staff came up with the idea for Hits4Hope. Family, friends, alumni and more are encouraged to donate small amounts of money for each hit the team records this season.
“I talked to the people that head up Secret Families of Madison County, and I was looking for a way to use baseball, a game we love to play, and create pledge opportunities off of that to raise money for them,” added Bair. “That’s when we as a coaching staff came up with the idea for Hits4Hope. So every hit we get throughout the course of this season, we can get supporters of our team to make a monetary donation towards that hit. Whether its just a nickel or dime, we can take these numbers and make a significant impact for a good cause.”
Bair wanted his players to be able to play for more than just personal or team success. He believes that it is his job as the coach to develop his players not only physically, but also as men.
“One of the things we always talk about with our guys is building better men, servant leaders and future mentors,” said Bair. “This opportunity falls right under that umbrella and provides our players a way to play for a higher purpose. Baseball is a game that can bring a lot of personal accolades, but we want to give them a reason to play for somebody else.”
The team’s goal is to raise $3,000 this season. Bair has reached out to other coaches in Madison County and told them about the team’s new fundraiser. He encouraged other coaches to make their own page off of the original to raise even more money for the cause.
“We are using this great campaign tool called Pledge It.,” Bair continued. “It’s a great resource to raise money for nonprofit businesses, and it’s free to use, so all of the money we raise will go right to the Secret Families ministry.”
The idea was not only good for the families helped out by the ministry, but it is something the players have really gotten behind already. Sophomore MJ Furnish loves the extra motivation he and his teammates have to perform well this upcoming season.
“Coach Bair told us about it via the GroupMe app, and we discussed it at our first team practice,” said Furnish. “He was really excited about the idea, and the whole team really rallied around it. It’s nice to have some extra motivation. Baseball is ultimately just a game, so it’s cool to use our skills for a bigger purpose.”
Hits4Hope is already off to a good start. The team has already raised $100 and have yet to play a game.
If you or someone you know would like to donate to the Hits4Hope campaign, you can do so by searching “Anderson University Hits4Hope” and clicking on the Pledge It link, or by visiting pledgeit.org/anderson-university-2019-hits4hope-challenge. Donations can be given per hit or on a one time flat rate basis. All proceeds will go towards supporting the families involved with Secret Families of Madison County.