With help from rallying donors across all 50 states and an impromptu head-shaving challenge, EMU’s fourth annual LovEMU Giving Day on April 8 raised a record $214,683 from 732 gifts.
This amount is an increase of nearly $100,000 over the 2019 totals.
Thank you to the many, many supporters who have “shown up together” in big ways for the people that make EMU the special place it is – our students, faculty, and staff.
The historic day was a surprising and uplifting result at a time when many other university fundraising events are being cautiously rescheduled or even cancelled. Much of the event’s momentum in past years carried over from on-campus activities, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed outreach in the digital space to an audience ready to respond.
Royals supporters were equally as generous with their time and energy, sharing videos and photos online and sending love to EMU in a way “that made the day feel inclusive in a way it’s never been before,” said Braydon Hoover ’11, director of development and annual giving and chair of the event committee. “We truly are one big family.”
Social media was a-buzz with tiny tots and kids of alumni in Royal blue, field hockey players batting balls, volleyball athletes challenging their fans, musicians and triathletes and cross country runners and artists all sharing their love for EMU.
“Our theme this year was ‘Show Up for EMU’ and that happened in a big way at a hugely important time for all of us,” said Kirk Shisler ’81, vice president for advancement. “LovEMU Day brought us together in a way that no other event could.”
As if the excitement could not be contained, the 24-hour outpouring of love began even before April 8 and stretched into the morning of April 9, with more donations accumulating even in this morning. Target goals on the challenges were met quickly with tallies eventually far exceeding the goals.
Other highlights of 2020 LovEMU Day:
- Raising $53,253 for the Emergency Student Compassion Fund.
- Raising $146,981 for the UFund for Resilience.
- Unlocking $70,000 in challenge match funds.
- Winning the 50-state challenge (thanks, Arkansas and Louisiana!).
- Helping the Education Program, Women’s Volleyball Team, and the Black Student Alliance to win $1,000 each.
- Hearing the many reasons why donors LovEMU (for a few, read on!).
A Few Reasons We LovEMU
- The life-changing opportunity EMU gave me to live and learn in another country!
- Our granddaughter loves the school and volleyball.
- I have loved EMU since my first year on campus, 1963 — lifelong friends, caring professors, and a new perspective on our church and world.
- I can’t repay what EMU/CJP gave me, but this is a good day to give something back!
- I really love the new tagline, “Lead Together!” I am forever grateful for the opportunities I experienced as an undergrad (class of ’86) to develop leadership skills in various settings. That could only happen with committed faculty and staff who encouraged me in those opportunities. I’m the person I am today because of my EMU experience. Forever grateful!
As he always does in his traditional role as LovEMU Day MC, Hoover watched the totals on the leaderboard tick up with delight. This year, he kicked coverage off with a “Morning Show”-style greeting, clutching a mug of coffee and wearing a plush Royal blue robe over his LovEMU Day t-shirt.
Chats throughout the day followed with Royals “celebrities,” including Herm the mascot (retiring soon), The Hon. Deanna Reed, mayor of Harrisonburg and a member of the EMU Board of Trustees; JD Richardson, co-president of Black Student Union; EMU President Susan Schultz Huxman; alumnus Trent Wagler ’02, with guitar, of The Steel Wheels; and Student Government Association co-presidents Seth Weaver and Leah Wenger. [And Yankees catcher and 2019 Alum of the Year Erik Kratz ’02 sent in a video greeting. Thanks, Erik!]
In a moment of delirium, caused by lack of coffee at 10 p.m., Hoover joked that he would shave his head if donations reached $200,000. “I thought I was safe,” he later recalled. Not so.
To the attempted rescue came Louise Otto ‘79 Hostetter, hoping a $225,000 threshold might #SaveBraydonsHair.
While an unprecedented number of gifts came pouring in the hour before, Hoover began shaving with a few minutes to midnight before signing off. “Even if we couldn’t save my hair,” he said, “I’m happy to donate it to the cause in support of our people!”