First UBC Okanagan breakfast event nets $50,000 for athletic scholarships

The first-ever UBC Okanagan Athletic Scholarship Breakfast, held April 21 at Kelowna’s Coast Capri Hotel, raised $25,000 for a brand-new UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Endowment. During the breakfast, it was announced that UBC will match that amount – doubling the initial endowment total to $50,000. It was also announced that Valley First Financial Group has committed to be the title sponsor for the first two years of the fund-raising breakfast.

“We greatly appreciate the tremendous support from the Okanagan community for this first-ever athletic scholarship breakfast in Kelowna,” says UBC President Dr. Martha Piper, keynote speaker for the event.

“This endowment is an investment that will make a difference, not only to the lives of our student athletes, but also to the future of the Okanagan,” Piper adds.

Patrons for the fund-raiser were Kelowna community-builders and long-time physical fitness advocates Lois and Cliff Serwa. Jackie Wong, UBC Okanagan student, assistant coach of the women’s volleyball team and former star player with the Okanagan Lakers, was the student athlete speaker.

Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation, says UBC Okanagan hopes to move into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Canada West conference, and the endowment will help attract and retain the outstanding student athletes so important to high-level varsity athletic programs.

“To be competitive at the highest levels of varsity sports in Canada, we will need to keep the top athletic talent in the valley as well as recruit other talented student athletes to come here,” he says, noting that student athletes must train on a year-round schedule.

During the season, they practice at least two hours per day four to five days per week. Add weekend competitions and the demands of a full academic workload and it is easy to see that there is little time for part-time employment, he says.

“Our UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Endowment will provide the financial assistance needed for our time-starved student athletes.”

A similar endowment fund-raiser at UBC’s Vancouver campus is held each March. The TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast has raised nearly $4 million in seven years, making it the single most successful fundraiser ever staged by a university athletics department in Canada.

“We are excited about the success of our first Okanagan fund-raising breakfast, and about bringing such a popular UBC tradition to UBC Okanagan where it will grow and benefit our scholarship endowment more each year,” says Johnson.

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