SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Lake Superior State Athletics was named the 2019 Community Partner of the Year by United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula at UWEUP's volunteer luncheon on Tuesday.
"We are excited to see Laker Athletics honored for the hard work they put forth in our community," said LSSU President Rodney Hanley. "Our student-athletes understand the importance of not only serving the university, but Sault Ste. Marie as a whole, and are positive role models for their fellow Lakers."
United Way of the EUP sought out nominees from the community to decide a group of finalists, and Laker Athletics was chosen as this year's recipient. The Lake State hockey team previously won the 2017 Community Partner of the Year Award. This is the first time that the whole department earned the award.
"We are honored to receive the 2019 Community Partner of the Year Award and appreciate the recognition from United Way of the EUP," said Dr. David Paitson, Director of Athletics at LSSU and member of the UWEUP Board of Directors. "Laker Athletics has a longstanding relationship with UWEUP and puts volunteerism at the forefront of our department, instilling it within our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We look forward to continuing our relationship with UWEUP for years to come."
Laker Athletics has been active in UWEUP's efforts in the community, highlighting the cooperative partnership between the department and United Way. In addition to coaches and staff getting involved, student-athletes take time out of their busy schedules to ensure that they have a positive presence in the community despite full class loads, practices, team travel and other commitments.
"Seeing LSSU Athletics honored this year was wonderful. These student-athletes and their coaching staffs do so much to support Sault Ste. Marie and United Way," said Raulaniesa Aranda, CEO of United Way of the EUP. "As a volunteer organization, we love being able to connect them with opportunities and enjoy having them help out at our own events. There is nothing quite like hearing their astonishment at how good it feels to give back to the community that supports them throughout their season."
Some UWEUP events that Laker Athletics teams participated in this year included the Thanksgiving food distribution, Citizen's Review Panel, Reading Buddies program and Global Youth Service Day. Lake State student-athletes also volunteered at United Way's local office for various tasks. The department was involved in community initiatives at a few athletic events this season, including hockey's cancer awareness fundraiser Check.Slash.Survive and Light the Lamp for UWEUP. The department also partnered with Diane Peppler Resource Center for the White Out Violence hockey game and the StandUP volleyball game. Multiple athletes also were involved in Relay for Life, volunteering for the War Memorial Hospital Long Term Care Unit's St. Patrick's Day Family Feast and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's Swishes for Wishes event that raised funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Follow Laker Athletics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and behind-the-scenes action.