Shaker’s crew teams will observe National Foster Care Awareness Month in May with an ergathon. It’s like a marathon — only the participants don’t go anywhere.
Instead, they will remain seated on ergometers, or rowing machines, repeatedly traveling only the few feet necessary to slide the length of the machine.
The athletes will row 5,000 meters May 31 after soliciting donations from fellow students and other donors. Mitchell’s Ice Cream has already committed to sponsor the ergathon. The teams hope to raise $3,000 and “awareness for the cause,” sophomore rower Haley Buchan said.
Although most teams use funds raised to purchase team merchandise or to subsidize travel, the crew teams are trying something new. “We were hoping to do something and give back to the community,” Buchan said. The fundraiser is “somewhat independent from the crew team,” but all the rowers are participating, according to Buchan.
The teams chose to support this charity after searching for a local cause. It’s called the “Ergathon Fundraiser for Nurturing Independence and Aspirations,” for short, the NIA Ergathon. The NIA is affiliated with YWCA of Greater Cleveland. Using their own Weebly webpage, the team solicits donations using compelling statistics.
“Every year, in Cuyahoga County alone, about 200 people age out of the foster care program,” the website states. Studies of foster care children show that within four years, 25 percent have been homeless, 56 percent have not graduated from high school and 51 percent are dependent on income assistance through government programs.
“These are the issues these young adults are presented with when they leave the system, and we found that this program helps a lot of of people in Cuyahoga County alone,” Buchan said.
The NIA helps youth ages 14-24 transition from the foster care program, focusing on “education, employment, housing, physical and mental health, and personal and community engagement,” according the the website.
Buchan has met with the NIA president. In addition, “I will be meeting with him to tour the facilities and we’ll be talking about how the crew team’s donations can help out with that,” she said.
The crew teams hope to set a precedent for Shaker sports. “We’re hoping that more teams from Shaker will be involved with this kind of fundraiser and more rowers from the area [will be in the ergathon],” Buchan said. “This is the first time that this has happened, and we’re hoping that it will grow next year.”
If you would like to donate to the NIA Ergathon, please contact [email protected]