Group of Ohio State undergrads expands efforts and increases impact

COLUMBUS, Ohio When training to work in a medical field, it can be all-encompassing. After all, the health of someone is on the line and especially with athletes, the injuries are continuous and learning to treat them is crucial. While members of the student-run Ohio State Athletic Trainers (AT) Club are preparing for a career in the management of the health of athletes, their caring and concern expand beyond the training room into the Columbus community.

The AT Club has always been involved with the community, hosting annual Easter eggs hunts for young students and singing Christmas carols to patients of the James Cancer Center. But Caroline Lewis, who heads the club’s community service committee, felt the group could expand their actions and the organization has not let her down.

“We’re really concerned about helping out the community and doing our part in making a difference,” Lewis said. “Our group of 30 members is small, but trying to make a big difference.”

In November, the club assembled a canned food drive leading up to Thanksgiving. They spread the word around in their undergrad classes in the athletic training program and among staff. The response was strong, especially after making it a competition between classes, and over 700 cans were donated to the Homeless Families Foundation in downtown Columbus.

Suggestions continued to come to Lewis, who then helped the AT Club organize a prom dress drive in March. Often times, the dresses from homecomings and proms of years ago never see the light of day again after the dance and take up space in the back of closets.

The club spread the word around to the Ohio State women’s athletic teams and collected piles of dresses then donated to the Fairy Goodmothers, a non-profit organization that sets up boutiques where high school junior and senior girls who may not have been able to afford it can pick out a dress for their school socials.

In early spring, Lewis got a mailing about American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The event, held May 9 at the Ohio State’s Fred Beekman Park, is the definition of a group project with members taking turns walking or running around a track or path at all times during the event, which are up to 24 hours in length.

For the AT Club preparing for a career in health care, it seemed it a perfect fit.

“I got the email about Relay for Life and mentioned it to the club and everyone was really excited,” Lewis said. “We are opening it up beyond club members to the AT families, especially if someone has been touched by cancer, since the money raised goes to cancer research.”

The AT Club has had just great responses to its growing community involvement and expects its participation to continue to increase, much to the excitement of Mary “Sam” Laingen, one of three certified athletic trainers who oversee the club.

“The students understand there are people in Columbus who are less fortunate but still support the Buckeyes in many ways so this is a way to give back to them,” Laingen said. “As they do community service, they see that it is just as, if not more, rewarding to be a giver of good will as it is to be a recipient. This has inspired them to do more events and reach out in multiple ways.”