Feb. 18 marked the conclusion of the 2018 Mule Madness season, a program aimed at collecting funds for Muhlenberg’s athletic programs through a week of competitions and incentivized fundraising. Heather Ennis ‘08, the current senior associate director of annual giving and Kim Stolarik, the leadership gift officer of development, both worked with Mule Madness. “We had a tremendous Mule Madness for 2018 and this year is tracking to be one of the most successful campaigns ever in terms of total dollars and participation,” they said.
The exact profit: $103,562.
This year the competition was tweaked from previous years to try and generate maximum participation from the athletics’ community. The changes were explained by the pair: “New for this year was the introduction of three goals for each team. All teams had a student-athlete participation goal named STEP, a total point goal named UP and a total dollars raised goal named MULES.”
Another change was naming two champions for two different fundraising categories. “This year the ‘Cardinal’ champion was awarded for most participation and the ‘Grey’ champion for highest total dollars raised,” they said. The participatory and monetary crowns were both earned by Men’s Lacrosse, who alone raised over $19,000.
“Our student athletes excel on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. However, they can’t do it without financial support” – Heather Ennis and Kim Stolarik
Both changes were to the benefit of Muhlenberg sports programs — achieving goals granted teams the additional donations from “team captains” while teams faced off to push one another to victory. “The goal system allowed for each team to earn additional funding,” said Ennis and Stolarik. “This system also got the competitive juices flowing for each team. It was great to see how excited and fierce the competition became throughout the week. We were encouraged and happy with the new system.”
The “team captains” were a key reason for the success each athletic program achieved. The Mule Madness team captains were not actual players on the team, rather they were comprised of “former alumni athletes or current parents of student-athletes.” Those leading the event were pleased that many donors stepped up to be team captains resulting in many teams having more than one. Some teams had enough captains for each to take responsibility of a certain goal being reached, while other teams had a one captain claim responsibility for all of the goals.
Raising funds is essential in Division III athletics, as individual team budgets do not always cover even the essentials of a team’s necessary equipment. For Mule Madness, the donations could either be designated to a specific team, or athletics as a whole.
“The sponsor donations will be used for each team’s individual fundraising needs such as spring break travel, field enhancements, and video editing software,” explained Ennis and Stolarik.
The DIII Challenge played an important role in the successful fundraiser. “The challenge encompasses different components for both the men’s and women’s teams such as giving among young alumni student-athletes, team GPA, overall student athlete participation and those named on the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll,” said Ennis and Stolarik. The challenge was supported by Trustee Jerry Galgano ‘80, P‘11, P‘14. According to advancement the overall participation was an element of the event that many teams capitalized on, with 12 achieving one hundred percent overall participation.
Although this year’s Mule Madness was a hit, the Office of Advancement wants to keep the event moving in the right direction. “Currently, we are thrilled with the format of the campaign but there are always areas in which we can improve,” explained Ennis and Stolarik. One of those improvements might be trying to strengthen one of the tweaks made for this year’s competition: more team captains. In their joint statement Stolarik and Ennis expressed that gaining more captains “will only benefit our student athletes”.
The gratitude within the efforts of all donors are quite deserving of a big thank you from all within athletics. The culmination is a strong gesture of how a great amount of alumni, parents, family, and friends of Muhlenberg want to help the athletics community succeed. Ennis and Stolarik agree, saying that “the Athletic Department and Office of Advancement are absolutely thrilled with the outcome.”
“It would not have been possible without the generous support of our alumni, parents, former parents, friends, coaches and student athletes. Our student athletes excel on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. However, they can’t do it without financial support,” said the pair. “That’s why Mule Madness is a great week to bring awareness and education about the College and athletic department.”