For many years, Ball State athletic teams are part of annual holiday effort to help local families.
In December 2004, Al Holdren, ’85, and his wife, Chris, decided to forego Christmas presents for themselves and use the money to provide two families in need with a tree and gifts.
They called their effort “Secret Families,” a name that came from a friend’s suggestion that the donors’ identities be kept “a secret” from the families.
Today, Secret Families is one of the largest single-day volunteer event in America with about 2,200 participants and more than 3,500 families in need assisted to-date. The families are referred to the program by school principals.
A variety of groups from Ball State, including athletic teams, are longtime supporters of the Secret Families initiative.
“From almost the day we started, Ball State athletic teams, fraternities, faculty, and students have been right there with us,” Mr. Holdren said.
Ball State athletic teams—including baseball, softball, soccer, and men’s and women’s golf—along with fraternities Phi Sigma Epsilon and Alpha Tau Omega, have helped with shopping, truck-loading, gift-wrapping, delivery, and other tasks done on the first Saturday in December.
“I was able to get our entire team involved with Secret Families in 2013,” said Ball State head baseball coach Rich Maloney. “Our kids get exposure to people in very real need and come away with a feeling that they’ve done something to truly help others less fortunate.”
One of those players was freshman shortstop Dylan Grego. He helped make deliveries to Delaware County families.
“It was life-changing for me,” he said. “I have such a greater appreciation for the blessings I have in my own life. And I’m so glad Coach Maloney involves us with this effort.”
Men’s head golf coach Mike Fleck sees participation in Secret Families as being aligned with Ball State’s mission.
“President Mearns has stressed the concept of ‘servant leadership’ and the critical importance of Ball State being involved in our community,” said Coach Fleck. “Secret Families is a prime example, and I’ve even had former players come back to help after they graduated.”