In 2018, The Gunnery School partnered with Play4TheCure during the month of October for the ninth consecutive year. The month-long programming was an opportunity to shed light on the battle against cancer and bring The Gunnery School together under one cause.
“Five years ago, I would have said because it’s tradition, and it is what we do, but the longer I have worked with the team, the more I have grown to learn it is much more than that,” reflected Mandarin teacher and Head Field Hockey Coach Tanya Nongera on the team’s decision to maintain a relationship with the Play4TheCure program of the National Foundation for Cancer Research.
Tanya continued on, “Tradition is good and everything, but it is not the driving force behind why we do this. The cause is near and dear to the hearts of many Gunnery families, whether they are on the team or not.”
A co-ed field hockey game wraps up their cancer awareness month and is a way to highlight a cause that affects so many and to showcase unity as a school.
Preparing for The Big Day
To introduce the fundraiser to the school, the team gave a presentation about the National Foundation for Cancer Research and its mission and work. The goal was to maintain the positive and celebratory nature of the game and celebrate The Gunnery School uniting for a disease that affects so many people.
As the team has been hosting Play4TheCure events for nearly a decade, their fundraising efforts have evolved. Their innovative marketing strategies in Fall 2018 allowed The Gunnery School Field Hockey to nearly double the amount raised in the previous school year. In Fall 2018, they raised $4,084.40. Their fundraising methods leading up to the game sought help not only from players but from other students, faculty and parents.
One of the captains initiated the idea of selling bracelets and necklaces, entitled “Beads Beat Cancer;” gaining traction among the community. The team also hosted a bake sale and created a Crowdrise page that allowed friends and families to donate to the program.
Donors also had the opportunity to “bet” on their favored team by choosing which one they wanted to win while submitting their donation.
“They don’t bet in the traditional sense,” Tanya explained. “It is more of a donation towards the team they choose to support, in exchange for a dress-down day if their teams win.” The school has a dress code.
Players were responsible for obtaining sponsorships and encouraging their friends and family to donate. Each year, Tanya sets the fundraising goal higher, prompting the players to work harder. Tanya stressed the importance of helping important causes through fundraising.
“Our school raises funds for many meaningful causes throughout the year, and this is the first big fundraiser of the year,” explained Tanya. “I think what it does is set the tone for the rest of the year, and shows those who are new to our community what we are about.”
Game Day Arrives
The team enjoyed the annual match because they had their peers and family to cheer them on. The event was specifically planned to take place at night under the stars, adding to the atmosphere and allowing more members of the community to attend. Besides the game, attendees also had the opportunity to win prizes that were reflective on donation amounts.
Impact On the Community
The mission and values of Play4TheCure are reflected in The Gunnery School aspirations for their students and faculty.
“As a school built on the principles of scholarship, integrity, respect and responsibility, we strongly believe it is our responsibility to be a part of the change we want to see in the world,” concluded Tanya. “We want our students to come out of this experience with the courage to act on their convictions.”