November 7, 2014

SVSU gears up for annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition

Saginaw Valley State University will commence another student-led Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University starting Sunday, Nov. 9. It culminates with the rival football programs' 1 p.m. game Saturday, Nov. 15, at SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Stadium.

This year's efforts will carry an added personal meaning for student organizers familiar with the namesake of the SVSU charity partner, the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation.

Cory Rivard Jr. was a GVSU student who committed suicide in January 2011. Josh Rivard, his younger brother, graduated from SVSU in May and is now in graduate school.

SVSU Battle of the Valleys chair Emily VanFleteren, a physical education major from Troy, said she and other SVSU students met Cory Rivard Jr. several times years ago when he visited his younger sibling at the Saginaw campus. Now, she hopes to raise $35,000 for the Rivard family-established foundation in Algonac, Mich., which educates college students on preventative measures for suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

VanFleteren said the foundation's tag line, “A Hug From Above,” perfectly encapsulated Cory Rivard, Jr.'s affable nature with friends and strangers alike.

“He was a great kid,” she said. “This hits home for me, and for a lot of people on campus who had met Cory or who know Josh.”

Rivard's status as a GVSU student with close SVSU ties also drives home another important message regarding Battle of the Valleys.

“Although there's a rivalry, we're fighting for great causes together,” VanFleteren said. “It helps put this rivalry in a positive light.”

Members of Rivard's family will attend some of the week's events, all of which are open to the public. Events planned outside of campus include late-night fundraisers at T-Dub’s pizzeria and pub across the street from campus, who will donate a portion of proceeds to the cause.

One new event this year, is a combined effort with the Saginaw Spirit hockey team for their game with the Windsor Spitfires Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:11 p.m. at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw. Tickets purchased using the username "SVSU" and password "spirit" will contribute $5 from each ticket purchased to support Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation. SVSU student volunteers will collect donations and sell Battle of the Valleys T-shirts and sweatshirts, along with glow sticks, inside the arena. Valley Voices, a choir group featuring SVSU students, will sing the national anthem.

SVSU's campus will host several Battle of the Valleys events throughout the week too. That schedule includes a kickoff party Sunday; a date auction Monday, Nov. 10; attendees purchasing Cool Whip pies to throw at members of SVSU's Student Association and resident assistants Tuesday, Nov. 11; a pep rally Wednesday, Nov. 12; and a talent show Thursday, Nov. 13.

For more details on each event, visit www.svsu.edu/bov‌. You also may donate online from the website.

At all events, SVSU Battle of the Valleys-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts will be sold for $10 and $20, respectively, or for $25 if purchased together.

All week long, students will collect donations at the intersection of Bay and Tittabawassee.

GVSU, meanwhile, will raise funds this year for The Grand Valley Children's Fund, a university-led initiative. Various organizations working with children can apply for mini-grants from the fund.

Since 2003, SVSU and GVSU have raised $432,963 during Battle of the Valleys for various charities and foundations. SVSU has collected $274,498, or 63.3 percent of the total, and out-raised GVSU during eight of the 11 years.

Last year, SVSU raised $25,185 for Area 22 Special Olympics Michigan, an organization that yearly sends hundreds of special-needs athletes to SVSU to compete.