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Athletes In Action

Athletes In Action

Honoring The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On the third Monday of each new year, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging in service projects throughout our communities nationwide. To many, Dr. King was a visionary. Uplifting his community through systemic change and encouraging others to take an active role in improving their communities.

His example is our call to action.

Our AFH University student-athletes from LSU, Southern, and Howard answered that call through eight (8) service projects in their own communities ranging from mural painting, planting shrubs, walking dogs, providing food and clothing for the less fortunate, and more.

Serve D.C.

The Howard University women’s and men’s golf teams kicked off volunteering on Saturday, January 14, with Serve DC. Together they packaged meals, created go kits, and learned critical CPR training.

Life’s most persistant and urgent questions is, “what are you doing for others?”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace Walk & Parade

On MLK Day, the Howard Swim & Dive team and the tennis team participated in the Peace Walk and Parade in the morning- a tradition that started over 40 years ago. The Peace Walk and Parade symbolizes the need to continue Dr. King’s work and reinforces the idea that every individual has a role to play in human progress and justice. 

If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Louisiana Key Academy

Monday, LSU Athletics hosted a “Live the Dream” Field Day at Louisiana Key Academy. Over 50 kids participated in the interactive service initiative with various stations facilitated by student-athletes highlighting their perspective sports.

MLK Day is special to me because I love giving back to my community. God has blessed me all my life and being able to give back to these kids and see them happy and smiling means the world to me.

Aristotle Abraham II, LSU Football

Forest Community Park

On Monday, Southern Volleyball, LSU Men’s Basketball, and LSU Volleyball assisted in forest restoration by planting shrubs and trees at Forest Community Park. Student-athletes moved plants from the parking lot to the restoration area, dug holes, and planted and watered plants.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.

Martin Luther King

So What Else

On Monday afternoon, Howard women’s basketball, football, and lacrosse took various shifts at So What Else – whose mission is to improve the lives of children and families living in underserved communities in the Baltimore-Washington Metro Area- where they distributed meals and clothes to those less fortunate in the D.C. area. 

Doing community service on MLK Day is important to me because he [Dr. King] dedicated his entire life to service in the Black community. It’s only right that on this day we pay tribute and serve those around us.

Kaniyah Harris, Howard Women’s Basketball

The Walls Project

Southern Baseball, Southern Soccer, LSU Golf, and LSU Soccer joined The Walls Project for their annual mural painting. Student-athletes painted a mural design sketched by a local artist and assisted with clean up at Jewel J. Newman Community Center.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Martin Luther King Jr.

St. Vincent de Paul

LSU student-athletes from various sports served in the dining hall at St. Vincent de Paul which provides hot meals to Baton Rouge’s homeless community daily.

Friends of the Animals

At the final service project on Monday, student-athletes from various LSU sports teams engaged with a new partner, Friends of the Animals Baton Rouge Shelter. They walked dogs and assisted shelter staff with general cleaning.

The life and legacy of Dr. King lives on through people like our student-athletes, who continue to dedicate themselves to bettering their community. While MLK Day has passed, you can still honor his legacy by taking the AFH MLK Service Day Pledge.

Athletes in Action

Serving Up Food, Friendship and Gratitude

Written by: Kenya Warren-Hollis, MPA, Program Manager, AFH University

For our AFH University student-athletes, the weeks before Thanksgiving are often met with studying for finals, trips back home, and winter workouts. For our Baton Rouge campuses, the week before Thanksgiving also meant an opportunity to give back to various members of their community through a week-long service project they entitled “Baton Rouge Serves With Purpose.”

As our AFH University campuses are focused on tackling the disparities of food insecurity this winter, our AFH U Baton Rouge student-athletes wanted to do their part by volunteering at various community organizations that routinely provide food, warmth, and friendship to those less fortunate.

Monday, November 14

The LSU Beach Volleyball Team kicked off AFH Baton Rouge’s “Serves with Purpose” week at Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank (GBRFB). The team worked together and assembled Thanksgiving meal boxes that were then distributed to GBRFB’s eleven parish service areas- many of which experience high levels of food insecurity. 

I enjoyed getting a chance to give back during a season centered around being grateful. It was nice to have an opportunity to remind me of all I have to be thankful for.

Reilly Allred, LSU beach volleyball

In preparation for the EBR Council on Aging’s Annual Thanksgiving luncheon, Southern Softball stopped by The Baker Municipal Center a day before the big event to help with set up. They were able to set up over 60 tables and 480 chairs to accommodate senior citizens attending the event on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 15

Southern University Volleyball had the pleasure of serving over 400 seniors from East Baton Rouge Council on Aging centers including Baker Senior Center, Greater King David Senior Center, Jewel J. Newman Senior Center, and Chaneyville Senior Center.

Event attendees were thankful for the extra hands as student-athletes and coaches assisted them throughout the luncheon. The team even had the opportunity to meet Councilwoman Chauna Banks, Constable Terrica Williams, and City of Baker Mayor, Darnell Waites.

Wednesday, November 16

Student-athletes from LSU Gymnastics and Golf continued our biweekly visit to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s hospital. They had the opportunity to read books in the activity room, facilitate games, and visit patient rooms.

I loved having the opportunity to serve at OLOL children’s hospital and being able to make a small difference in a child’s day. Seeing them smile when in a difficult circumstance is a beautiful thing.

Michael Sanders, LSU Golf

Thursday, November 17

Southern University Football continued our AFH BR “Serves with Purpose” Week at St.Vincent de Paul. Student-athletes served lunch on a serving line, passed out to-go lunches, and engaged with guests throughout the visit. Before each lunch, dining hall coordinators take the time to pray with guests. AFH Intern and Southern student-athlete Caleb Washington took the initiative to lead everyone in prayer and uplift guests before receiving a hot meal.  

St. Vincent de Paul staff and guests were excited to meet Southern Football players ahead of the Bayou Classic, where Southern won against Grambling State 36 – 14, and the student-athletes were equally excited for the opportunity to interact with them.

Friday, November 18

Southern University Baseball closed out our week of service at a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway hosted by Councilman Cleve Dunn and Collegiate Baton Rouge. Players passed out over 200 turkeys to families, toured the Collegiate Baton Rouge campus, and engaged with students. They also had an opportunity to be interviewed by Metro 21, the East Baton Rouge government channel that broadcasts to 150,000 households.

Today was a perfect full-circle experience, being able to work hand in hand with high school students sharing knowledge while also reminiscing on our high school days. We got to tour the school which allowed us to see the direction in which the next generation of leaders is taking us. On top of that giving turkeys to the community and seeing the smiles on their faces made us appreciate the opportunity that we had as kids and being able to take advantage of that to put us in the position to be influential to others. 

Jerry Burkett II, Southern University baseball

The holiday season is a time when we are able to reflect on all that we are grateful for and this year our student-athletes haven’t stopped saying how grateful they are to be able to give back to their communities. We are looking forward to hosting more week-long service projects across our AFH University campuses in the future.

Community Partner Highlight

Miracle Moments at Cyprus Mounds

As we built new relationships with local nonprofits in Baton Rouge, one stood out as a student-athlete favorite – The Miracle League. For those unfamiliar, The Miracle League gives children with any type of disability the opportunity to play the game of baseball. 

Since 2016, Athletes for Hope student-athletes have looked forward to Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Cypress Mounds.

This is a great opportunity to give back to the culture around us and we enjoy every second of it.

Gavin Dugas, LSU Baseball

Our involvement has not only brought joy to the young Miracle League athletes but to LSU and Southern University student-athletes as well. Serving as buddies, protecting players during the game, and cheering them on has been a rewarding experience while contributing to a positive environment for all participants. Our 2019 & 2022 AFH Partner of the Year participant stated, “It’s been unbelievable. The Miracle League players love it when athletes come out to join them.”- Charlene Lauman, Miracle League- Volunteer Coordinator for the 2022 fall season.

Everyone should go watch or volunteer at the Miracle League! It’s truly a blast to be out there with those kids because all they want to do is have fun! That’s what the game is all about. Each and every single one of them puts a smile on my face. I’m already looking forward to my next game because they are so much fun!

McKenzie Odgen, Southern University Softball.

AFH Baton Rouge teams made weekly visits to their friends over at Cypress Mounds- never missing a game during the entirety of the fall 2022 season. It wasn’t long until their dedication and commitment to their community started getting noticed on a larger scale. Local news station WBRZ made a trip out to Cypress Mounds to watch our student-athletes from LSU in action.


Following LSU Baseball’s visit in October, they posted to their social media platforms “Thank you to the Miracle League at Cypress Mounds for having us and we can’t wait to see y’all at Alex Box this season!”


We are looking forward to returning for the spring season to support our buddies at The Miracle League. 

Athletes in Action

April 2022 AFH University Recap!

As we approach the end of the school year, class schedules may be slowing down but AFH University service projects are as strong as ever. Take a look at some of the highlights below to see what AFH U student-athletes have been up to over the past month!

In Baton Rouge, LSU Volleyball served at a booth at the Baton Rouge Zippity Zoo Festival community event while LSU Athletics as a whole hosted a field day for middle schoolers at LA Key Academy. Student-athletes from Beach Volleyball, Gymnastics, Indoor Volleyball, Cross Country ran different stations and interacted directly with the students.

college athletes post with two children outside

“Getting to engage with the middle schoolers was so rewarding. You could tell they felt seen and for me, they helped bring laughter and fun to the whole field day.”

Ellie Shank, LSU Beach Volleyball

As part of their student-athlete week at Southern University, AFH U partnered with NAMI Louisiana to host a mental health awareness event. NAMI Louisiana director, Lashonda Williams, J.D. lead a discussion around stress management and the importance of whole athlete wellness, Nicole Wesley of Pennington shared an opportunity for female athletes to participate in a psychological resilience study, followed by a yoga session facilitated by former student athlete, Maya Anderson.

In Charlottesville, UVA hosted its first “UNITY Walk” which was was organized by SAAC Vice President and BOSS (Black student-athletes Offering Service and Support) leader Milla Ciprian. Working with groundskeepers, she says that the goal of the walk was to “educate our peers on the historical and lingering effects of the impact of structural racism from the perspective of Charlottesville community members.” In turn, this walk helped connect student-athletes at UVA with the Charlottesville community, an important step in improving the relationship between the two.

As citizens who live and work in the city of Charlottesville, there is an opportunity to learn more about the untold history of Charlottesville and its inhabitants. Our intention is to connect and begin creating a relationship with the local community.

Milla Ciprian
a group of UVA students stand in a street

Moving up the east coast to Washington, D.C., Howard Women’s Basketball assisted and cheered for youth with disabilities during a basketball game with athletes from KEEN Greater D.C.

MSU Field Hockey and Football promoted the Be The Match None Marrow Registry around campus by getting students, friends, and family members to sign up for the live saving registry.

“Be The Match is a great event to help educate people on the importance of bone marrow donation saving lives. It’s an event that my team looks forward to hosting every year and we are excited to grow the registry every year.”

Cara Bonshak, MSU Field Hockey

Last but not least, we had a wonderful session, “Creating a Social Justice Mindset” with student-athletes in the AFH U Sports Philanthropy Certificate Program. Track and Field runner Marvellous Iheukwumere spoke with student-athletes about gender and racial equality, sexual assault and chronic disease advocacy.

Join us in congratulating AFH University student-athletes for once again going above and beyond in giving back to their communities!

Athletes in Action

March 2022 AFH University Recap!

Three things are always constant in March at AFH: the weather starts getting warmer, the sun shines a little brighter, and our AFH University student-athletes are constantly giving back!

This year, our March activations mainly focused on disability awareness and inclusion opportunities with kids from all over the country. Our AFH U Baton Rouge campuses:

  • Began weekly baseball games with Miracle League which will go through May
  • Hosted a field day with LA Key Academy elementary students
  • Helped with a house painting project with The Walls Project

AFH U Howard student-athletes also worked with K.E.E.N. Greater DC players at a basketball clinic.

It was just fun being able to play with kids who have nothing but pure joy for the game. It reminded me of how I felt about the game when I was younger, so they truly are an inspiration to remember to be grateful for every moment on the field.

Raquel Latta #14, Southern Softball

Take a look at some of the amazing highlights in the gallery below and join us in celebrating these incredible student-athletes for bringing smiles to so many!

AFH Welcomes 2020 Fall Interns

Athletes for Hope offers ways for college students and college student-athletes to make a difference while learning valuable skills through our internship program. Our interns help us carry out our day-to-day work and this semester, we have three new interns from Louisiana who are assisting us in a variety of ways. Meet Aubri James, TarynDeShay Antoine and Courtney Henderson.

Aubri James

Aubrion James is a 22 year-old first-year MBA student at Southern University and A&M College. Originally from Madison, AL, Aubri loves her family, staying active, and God. She will be starting her fifth season of eligibility as a pitcher and outfielder in spring 2021, due to the
cancellation of the spring 2020 season.

Taryn Antoine

Taryn Deshay Antoine was born on September 23 in Alexandria, Louisiana. Her parents are Travis and Robertha Antoine. She is an only child beginning her 4th year on the Lady Tigers Softball Team. She has served on SAAC for 3 consecutive years and has been the Community
Service Executive Officer for two of those. She plans to major in Kinesiology Pre-Occupational Therapy.

Courtney Henderson

“This fall I am entering into my 5th season on the soccer team at LSU. I am originally from Rogers, MN. I grew up in a wonderful community, so the emphasis that Athletes for Hope places on having a positive impact on the community is super important to me! I have worked alongside Athletes for Hope for the past four years while being a member of the LSU Student Athlete Advisory Committee. This year I have the privilege of serving as the SAAC Vice President. My major is General Business, and I am double minoring in Social Work and International Studies. I am really looking forward to this opportunity!”