LEWISBURG, PA – Alumni, parents and friends of the Bucknell University athletics program came together last week and showed their true dedication and loyalty in support of the inaugural 24-hour fundraising challenge known as “The Bison March for Excellence.” A total of 2,334 unique donors made gifts to Bucknell’s varsity athletics program, accounting for more than $523,000 in financial support.

“The Bison March for Excellence was a great example of the tremendous pride and love our alumni, parents and friends have for the institution and in particular for our athletics programs,” said director of athletics John Hardt. “Members of our athletics development team, our Bison Club Board of Directors, and our head coaches worked hard to promote the day, and it really showed once the final numbers were tallied. The additional funding will go a long way in helping us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $2.5 million for athletics. On behalf of our coaches and student-athletes, thank you for such great support.”

The Bison March for Excellence was the first athletics-only giving day challenge conducted by Bucknell. In previous years, Bison Athletics had been a large component of the very successful Trustee Challenge, run by the university.

“The concept of a giving challenge has been extremely successful for our programs over the past four years,” said Todd Newcomb ’88, the director of the Bison Club. “Knowing its potential impact on our student-athletes, we began preparing for an athletics-only challenge nearly six months ago. In addition to the tremendous support we received from our donor base, the event could not have been the success that it was without the assistance of the Bison Club and several departments on campus, including development and alumni relations and its gift processing team.”

Members of the Bison Club Board of Directors, as well as some select very supportive athletics donors, came together and donated a total of $85,000 to be used as challenge funds. The challenge money was awarded to programs based on their total number of donors throughout the 24-hour window.  The cross country/track & field program (Spiked Shoe Club) took top honors with 340 donors, followed by football (277) and men’s soccer (169). Overall, eight programs finished the challenge with at least 100 donors.

A portion of the $85,000 challenge pool was also used to fund a series of three impromptu mini-challenges over the course of the event. The first pitted the men’s and women’s basketball programs against each other, and when the dust settled after the two-hour competition the women’s team came away with more donors and an extra $750 for its program. The second mini-challenge saw the men’s tennis program earn an additional $750 by defeating the women’s golf program. The final mini-challenge included a competition between all the men’s teams against each other, and all the women’s teams against each other over the final two hours of the 24-hour window. The top three men’s teams were football ($1,000), Spiked Shoe ($500) and men’s soccer ($250), while the top three women’s programs were Spiked Shoe ($1,000), field hockey ($500) and women’s soccer ($250).

The football program garnered the top spot in terms of dollars raised, finishing at $82,099 with an average gift of $296. The Spiked Shoe program ($44,302) and men’s soccer program ($43,144) rounded out the top three.

If you missed the opportunity to support Bucknell’s athletics program during the challenge, you can make a gift on-line using this link:  http://www.bucknell.edu/script/Gifts/  Be sure to select “other” and then type in a sport name if you wish to designate your gift to your favorite athletics program.