I had to wait a while to get a few numbers officially in order before I could write this post, but now it's time to take a final look back at how our Belk Bowl fundraiser turned out.
In the end, Card Chronicle raised an amazing $14,320 through go fund me, which translated into $13,112.59 that we had at our disposal. We used that money to send 142 kids (and parents/chaperones) to the game, and to purchase 100 food and drink vouchers and send 100 "Go Cards" shirts to Charlotte. Pretty cool.
Still, I can't help but feel a little disappointed that we were "only" able to send 142 people to the game since we had the funds to do much more.
Communication trouble was the biggest issue I was faced with during this process, which I suppose I should have foreseen considering that the Belk Bowl people, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, another youth organization in Charlotte, the people making the shirts, the Carolina Panthers and multiple offices at U of L were involved and all had to be contacted multiple times. Toss in having to work around everyone's Christmas events (including mine, which involved having to figure out how to divide time equally between my wife's family and my own for the first time) and the madness once the actual Belk Bowl events began, and it's easy to see why it became a little difficult to get everyone on the same page at times.
If we choose to do this again, which is my intention, I think this year will have served as a great learning process. There are things that I now know how to do far better, and things which I would now do completely differently.
Having said all that, this was still an overwhelmingly positive experience. The only example you need to confirm that statement is the story of Walta and Paulos Muruts, a pair of high school students in Charlotte who spent a large portion of their childhoods in Louisville, and who are as deserving of a reward as any two kids I can imagine.
Both are tremendous students with exemplary track records. Paulos, who was an intern with the Bank of America volunteer program last summer, scored well on his ACT and is now weighing his college options. Walta has a sparkling GPA and has already done more volunteer work than most people do in a lifetime.
Both of these kids are diehard Louisville fans who had never been able to attend a Cards game before the Belk Bowl. That's pretty great.
I can't thank those of you who donated or just helped spread the word about this enough. I think it was an extremely rewarding experience for everyone involved, and my hope is that it becomes an annual thing that gets bigger and better with each passing year.
Special thanks to everyone who went out of their way to help with this, especially the folks with the Belk Bowl, particularly Miller Yoho, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Access Services Group, Joyce Tompkins, the Carolina Panthers concession folks, Kenny Klein, Josh Hawkins, and, again, all of you guys.
The awesome problem we're now faced with is what to do with leftover money, which is a whopping $9,858.39. I already have some ideas and have been in touch with a few people, but I'd also like to hear from all of you, since you had every bit as much to do with making this happen as I did.
Once again, thank you all so much.