Members of the rowing team volunteer at Habitat and Humanity among other organizations
COLUMBUS, Ohio A typical schedule for an Ohio State rower includes pre-dawn practices, classes, study tables, strength and conditioning, team meetings, and on and on. Sometimes the day is so packed from before sunrise to after sunset, it is easy to just go through the day and take care of business.

But that’s not enough for the Buckeye rowing team. In between everything else on the planner, the team has found time to connect with the local Columbus community by volunteering.

“Volunteering has brought the team together because we get the opportunity to help people and organizations that truly need help,” Erika Benford, a sophomore coxswain, said. “Girls on our team have played with children who are sick at Children’s Hospital just so they can be entertained for a couple of hours and have their minds relieved from their daily hospital life. It is nice to see how happy and willing everyone is to volunteer.”

Recently, the Buckeyes made their second visit to Columbus’ Habitat for Humanity this season. In October, members of the team put down the oar and picked up the sledge hammer to help with a demolition project. The Buckeyes returned at the end of January to Habitat of Humanity’s ReStore, where household objects have been donated or salvaged to use in future buildings.

While at ReStore, the team helped out with several areas, including measuring and labeling doors and windows, stocking shelves and organizing and transporting heavy boxes by color.

Habitat for Humanity is just one organization the Buckeyes have become involved with. As soon as the team returned to campus this fall, the volunteering began.

 They worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise $2,500 while participating in its Light the Night’ one-mile walk at Ohio State’s Fred Beekman Park, honoring survivors, fighters and their families who have been affected by the disease.
 Over the Thanksgiving weekend, several members of the team ran in the Turkey Trot which mainly benefited the Ronald McDonald House.
 Throughout the school year, the Buckeyes also have participated in 2nd & 7 readings almost every Friday and volunteered for Nationwide Children’s Hospital for two hours once a month to play and visit with sick children.

“Volunteering has helped me see what kind of influence we, as student-athletes, have on the youths of our community,” sophomore Kristin DiJosie said. “During the 2nd & 7 readings, the children were so interested about who we are as Buckeyes and how education has helped us get to where we are today. It is great to see they are looking up to us and it helps me want to be an even greater role model for them.”

In all, the rowers have totaled almost 200 volunteer hours and made some great memories with teammates and the community in the process.
“The most memorable moment that stands out to me while volunteering was during the ‘Light the Night’ walk in October,” Benford said. “We did not know what this walk would have in store but it ended up being quite awe-inspiring. We walked around Beekman around 8 p.m. and all were holding illuminated red balloons along with thousands of other people who were there supporting the same thing. I am not sure if anyone on our team has ever experienced something like that. It is definitely something we would like to participate in next year.”

The season for the Ohio State rowing teams begins in March, adding travel and competition to its already busy schedule. But once the season is over and summer begins, the Buckeyes will be back at it in the Columbus community getting as much from volunteering as they give.

“You never realize how much you mean to someone you’ve never met before until you do something that makes them feel great,” senior Bethany Harris said. “You see the look in their eyes and the expression on their faces and you know that what you did really made a difference. By simply reading a book or reorganizing a warehouse, you are able to make something happen for someone that may not have been possible before, and that brings about a whole new meaning to life.”