As a Pitt State student-athlete, life isn’t always about the performance on game day. Part of being a student-athlete in Division II is the commitment to the community. The Gorillas showed their community support over the past year with many new outreach activities. Led by SAAC, student-athlete advisory committee, PSU athletes organized two large events as a way to give back.

“Being able to give back to the community is a very special opportunity,” said Jacob Stevenson, a sophomore on the baseball team from Carl Junction, Mo. “When you can help those in need, it really humbles you.”

On a Thursday night in November, John Lance Arena played host to the first annual “Gorillas Got Talent” Make-A-Wish event. “Make-A-Wish is a charity that the NCAA focuses on as a primary fund raiser across its three divisions,” said director of marketing and community engagement Emily Moses. “Every year the student-athletes develop several different events to raise money for Make-A-Wish. Like past years, stars were sold before each home basketball game for the Wish Wall, but this new event was a huge money maker on top of the other efforts.”

The “Gorillas Got Talent” student-athlete talent show featured athletes from nearly every sport with a special talent to show off for the night. Local celebrities were in attendance as judges to help rank the talents. Baseball proved to have the best set of skills on that night with a hip hop dance performance that had the crowd on their feet. The event raised $650 for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Another service project the Pitt State student-athletes set their sights on in December was a “Kids Night In with the Gorillas.” With more than 80 student-athletes on hand, local kids came out to the Weede to have a night of games and activities with their favorite Gorillas.

“The athletic department did a great job setting these events up,” said Stevenson. “It was a blast being a part of them and I am looking forward to more of them in the future.”

Kids had the chance to write letters to Santa, play games like Bingo and Twister, and show their skills in games of basketball and football with the Gorillas. The night was a great success, raising more than $500 for Pittsburg CHOICES Emergency Shelter.