The University of Oklahoma Sooner Club recently held its first annual Thank-a-Thon.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Sooner Club members received some unexpected phone calls recently. On the other end of the line? Basketball's Willie Warren, gymnast Ashley Jackson, football's Jonathan Nelson, or soccer's Ashley Bolden.
These, along with nearly 50 other OU student-athletes, gathered in the press box at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 27 and 28 to participate in the 2009 Sooner Club "Thank-a-Thon."
For over two hours each night, student-athletes made personal phone calls to Sooner Club donors simply to say "thank you" for their donations to OU Athletics.
"We felt this was a great way to connect our donors with the student-athletes that they're supporting," said Director of Annual Giving Dusty Clements.
"We do our best to make sure all of our donors know that their gifts are appreciated, but it only means so much coming from us. When we can connect Sooner Club members with the student-athletes whose lives are being impacted by their generosity, that's very important."
Nearly 2,500 Sooner Club members were called during the two-day event with plans to extend the Thank-a-Thon's reach next year.
Sooner Club donations are used primarily to support student-athlete scholarships, as well as funding the necessary academic resources required to achieve success in the classroom. Donations also play a major role in the funding of new and renovated facilities for each sport.
"A lot of times as a student-athlete you aren't always aware of the resources involved in making your college education and experience possible," said Assistant Director of Development Carl Pendleton, an OU football letterwinner. "This was a great way to connect our current student-athletes with the people who are supporting them through scholarships, programs and facilities."
The Oklahoma Athletics Department is entirely self-supporting and receives no state funds. This reality creates a significant need for private contributions. The department's reliance on private support increases each year as the cost of education and the resources necessary to maintain a quality athletics program continue to escalate.
The successes enjoyed by OU student-athletes in competition, as well as in the classroom, would not be possible without the generosity of Sooner fans across the country and around the world.
So if you see a call from an unknown Norman phone number ... pick it up. It might just be one of your favorite Sooner stars calling with a very important message.