Warhawk athlete Madi Smith was one of several from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to take part in the first-ever “Afternoon of Fun with Warhawk Athletes” at Fairhaven Senior Services. (Tom Ganser photo)

By Tom Ganser

Friday the 13th of April proved to be a good luck day for more than 50 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students and residents of Fairhaven Senior Services as they gathered together for the first “Afternoon of Fun with Warhawk Athletes.”

Fifty-five UW-Whitewater student athletes from volleyball, gymnastics, track and field, cross county and men’s and women’s soccer shared part of their afternoon with Fairhaven residents taking in a performance of island music by “Bahama Bob” Bob Milan, dancing with Willie the Warhawk, and playing table games, including Yahtzee, Euchre, the Mexican Train Game and dominos.

As a memento of the event, residents were presented with a personalized picture frame prepared by UW-Whitewater students from Roberta’s Art Gallery for their photo with Willie the Warhawk or student athletes.

Brian Robinson, Director of Leisure Services, arranged the afternoon of fun with the assistance of Kristina Navarro, associate athletic director for student development and strategic initiatives at UW-Whitewater, and UW-Whitewater student athlete leader Morgan Beaty.

“The relationship with the student athletes has been incredible since they have started coming over about three-and-a-half years ago and continues to grow with each semester,” Robinson said.

During the academic year, UW-Whitewater athletic team members share time with residents in “Meet and Greet” programs, along with working besides residents in making dog treats and in a variety of art projects such as decorating pumpkins for Halloween.

“The event held today was a way for us to have one last event with a large group before exams and the semester comes to an end. Walking around and seeing the smiles, laughter, and socialization going on was everything I could have hoped for as that is what it is all about,” Robinson said. “Creating these intergenerational experiences has been rewarding for not only the residents at Fairhaven but also the student athletes, and I am excited for the visits next school year.”

According to Navarro, the partnership with Fairhaven is a cornerstone of the Warhawks Give Back Program.

“Student athletes really value the opportunity to engage with members of the community who support our athletics program,” Navarro said. “From a developmental standpoint it is most rewarding to see the organic conversations that develop including life lessons residents share with our students.”


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