MARQUETTE - Rivalry is rarely a bad thing in sports. It causes athletes to compete harder and play with more heart.
But the arena in which rivalry is most effective is fundraising, which is why the Student Athlete Advisory Committees of Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech have teamed up to help send an 8-year-old girl from Hancock, named Madison, to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Madison suffers from Nemaline Rod Myopathy, a rare genetic muscular disorder. A few Michigan Tech athletes have had the chance to meet her, including Tech SAAC president Jordanna Kero.
"She's very sweet, funny and stubborn," Kero said. "She can't talk very clearly but uses an iPad to help communicate when she can't be understood."
Nationally, SAAC has worked closely with Make-A-Wish for many years, a foundation that grants wishes to children like Madison with life-threatening conditions. NMU and Tech reached out to the Michigan branch and were matched up with Madison.
The combined fundraising goal for NMU and Tech is $6,000, which the student-athletes plan to use their rivalry to exceed.
Michigan Tech will host the Bounce-O-Rama, an inflatable play park for children, fundraiser for Make-A-Wish from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday in the multipurpose room of the Student Development Complex. Tickets are on sale for $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
"I think any time you put athletes against their competition, they're going to do a lot better," Kero said.
The two committees had the opportunity to bounce fundraising ideas off each other, as well as looking to other schools who have launched successful Make-A-Wish campaigns.
Between a student-athlete talent show, and selling T-shirts, pledge stars and bracelets at sporting events, the Wildcats have already raised $3,700 toward Madison's cause.
"The more money we raise, the better," NMU SAAC president Katie Becker said. "No matter how much we raise, it'll go to someone's wish. The Marquette community has been very generous."
Michigan Tech's main fundraiser takes place on Sunday in Houghton as the season-long campaign nears its end. The Huskies will host the Bounce-O-Rama, an inflatable play park for children, from noon to 5 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Student Development Complex on campus.
Tickets are on sale for $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Autographed Huskies apparel and souvenirs will be available for purchase, and Tech athletes will help run activities during the event.
Both teams are selling Make-A-Wish T-shirts and have worn them as their gameday warmups during the season before playing each other.
"It was just cool to have both teams wear the same T-shirt for the same cause before their competition," Kero said.
Northern still has T-shirts available for sale for $5 each, and they can be bought from SAAC adviser Kristen Rogers at Room 137 in the PEIF.
The Wildcats and Huskies will combine their funds and join this spring for a sendoff party as Madison takes her trip to Disney World, and the athletes will all have a chance to meet her.