On Sunday, Oct. 25, members of the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter (above) manned water stations and cheered on runners in the Cocoa Beach Half Marathon. They also collected used running shoes — 104 pairs to be exact! — to be donated to local charities. SEE MORE PHOTOS
In addition, the UCF Alumni Association’s own Shawna Duane (below), administrative assistant to Executive Director Julie C. Stroh, ran the half marathon (her first one), finishing in 2:54.39, earning her a miniature “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle (since the series took place in Cocoa Beach). “Jeannie” herself, Barbara Eden, was even in attendance to congratulate the runners. Way to go, Shawna!
Nearly nine months after the Islamic State group beheading of former UCF student and journalist Steven Sotloff, UCF has established a fund to commemorate his life.
The Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund at UCF, created by Sotloff’s family, was made not only to honor his life, but to preserve his work.
“His family wanted to establish a legacy for Steven,” said College of Sciences’ Director of Development Ray Allen.
Allen said he interacted with Sotloff’s family at UCF, where they came up with a way to remember the former Knight.
Through donations, the fund aims to provide scholarship support to UCF students majoring in journalism. The fund was also established to advance journalism education, as well as endowments for lectures and programming.
“We have set up the memorial fund to invite other donors to support this fund in Steven’s honor,” Allen said.
Longtime UCF donors Tony and Sonja Nicholson — after whom the Nicholson School is named — have committed to match donation gifts to the fund.
“Every dollar will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 matched,” Allen said.
Contributors can visit www.ucffoundation.org/sotloff, where they will be directed to fill in their donation amount, billing information and add whether they want this donation to be a one-time gift, recurring or a series of installments.
“While Steven was in captivity, he managed to smuggle out a letter to us stating he wanted to give back. We would like to continue Steven’s legacy for generations to come by working with UCF to establish a fund in Steven’s honor,” said his parents Shirley and Arthur Sotloff in a statement on the donation page.
Sotloff attended UCF from 2002 to 2004, where he studied journalism. He then left to focus on working as a Middle East correspondent, wanting to travel to war zones like Libya and Syria.
Sotloff was abducted by the Islamist extremist group and held in captivity.
In September 2014, in an attempt to send “A Message to America,” the Islamic State group beheaded Sotloff in a distributed video as a way to reach President Barack Obama.
UCF students from the athletics fan group “The Gauntlet,” UCF’s Syrian American Council and the UCF chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists joined together to host a vigil that same month to honor Sotloff.
Along with UCF’s contribution, Sotloff’s parents established a fund at his high school, Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.
The Steven Sotloff ’02 Fund aims to inspire Kimball students to follow Sotloff’s passion: seeing the world through a different lens, while following global and cultural awareness.
Blanketing the city with compassion and comfort, the White Linen Project at UCF is leaving its mark around Central Florida in the form of sheets.
Students at UCF formed the White Linen Project, a volunteer initiative that provides linen to homeless families, to leave an imprint on their community.
Shakera Quince, a junior management major, was influenced to begin the nonprofit organization when she began volunteering for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, one of the largest homeless shelters in Central Florida. After volunteering twice a week and witnessing several families that slept in the cold, Quince said she felt a deep connection with the children and families she served. She decided to challenge herself on what she could do to further provide resources to the families at the mission.
“I was able to find out that one of the major needs was linen, specifically white linen at the time,” she explains. “So, I stayed up late at night for a couple of weeks trying to figure out what can I do. Lo and behold, the White Linen Project was born.”
Quince paired with four other students who shared her passion for wanting to change some of the circumstances of the homeless, including her former roommate, Katrina Poggio, a senior journalism major.
Poggio said she is currently working on a photo project for the White Linen Project’s website to bring awareness to the homeless community.
“I got involved because Shakera and I have a mutual interest in making a difference,” she says. “My favorite part about the volunteer initiative is that I have an opportunity to give a voice to those who go unheard.”
After developing the program for almost a year, Quince and her team introduced the White Linen Project on campus in April. By partnering with several community-wide volunteer initiatives, such as Volunteer UCF, Straight Street Orlando and the Mustard Seed of Central Florida, the White Linen Project has beckoned attention for the immense demand for linen donations.
In order to provide students with opportunities to donate, members of the White Linen Project tabled outside the Student Union every Monday in April, allowing students to either drop off linen directly to them or at other designated areas around campus.
For the summer, Quince and the rest of the team have obtained two options for students to continue to donate to the White Linen Project: the UCF cubicle located on the second floor of the Student Union and the Knights Pantry.
After their first month on campus, Quince, Poggio and their team collected more than 150 pieces of linen.
Poggio and Quince are looking to expand the team with more volunteers so the organization can eventually grow into a registered student organization.
“We have so many ideas as we grow, and one of them is maybe even handing linens out downtown to people who sleep on the ground outside. Coming with a box of pizza and some linen and just saying, ‘Hey, have a nice night,'” Quince said.
In the future, Quince is hopeful that her initiative will expand beyond the UCF proximity.
“Hopefully one day we can go outside of Orlando,” she says. “One day, maybe we will collect enough linen to send over to other countries.”
Just as they did for the Fiesta Bowl last year, UCF fans once again reached a little deeper into their pockets and shared their holiday spirit with the troops, buying extra tickets for the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, which will be donated to military personnel in the Bay area.
In fact, Knights were so generous, they helped reach the maximum of 100 tickets, which will be given to service men and women stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Fans also helped UCF sell out its two allotments of game tickets in less than a week.
The Knights take on the N.C. State Wolfpack at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26 at Tropicana Field, which is only 18 miles from the MacDill base.
Giving | Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, Maudlin International Trucks
By Jason Cannon
Alumni support their schools in many different ways, but showing up on game day and making an occasional donation wasn’t good enough for Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, two UCF grads who pegged their football fandom at a 10 out of 10.
Maudlin, a business major, and Cunningham, an accounting major, wanted to be sure their football team was able to travel to away games in style by providing the team use of a brand new truck and trailer.
“We want to support them,” says Maudlin, vice president and general manager of Maudlin International Trucks. “They had a great season last year.”
This season, the Knights have already hauled their equipment from Orlando to Missouri, Houston and Connecticut on Maudlin’s truck and trailer, with [final] stops in South Florida and East Carolina before the season ends Dec. 4, capping an 8,500-mile journey.
The truck is an 2015 International LoneStar, fully customized and upgraded, sparing no expense to get the Knights on the road.
“We wanted to go to the top of the top for the tractor set up,” Maudlin says.
“For us, we wanted to offer to our alma mater something that would suit them the best in terms of being able haul its football equipment and to showcase the program,” Cunningham adds.
The truck and trailer (a 43-footer they bought specifically for the school) are owned by Maudlin International, which also provided the driver.
“We paid for the wrap — For everything,” Cunningham says. “The only thing they stroke us a check for is the gas. The insurance and everything falls on us.”
The trailer will remain with the school for storage after the season, but the truck will come back to Maudlin and go into the company’s rental fleet.
As a token of appreciation, UCF provided the dealership with a handful of tickets, which the company uses to invite customers to tailgates and build networking opportunities, and also helps Maudlin International establish a business relationship with the school and other program supporters.
“It helps us showcase just how good our product is and how we can back it up,” Maudlin says.
Watch time-lapse video of the truck being wrapped in black and gold:
This article originally appeared in an Oct. 15, 2014, news story on successfuldealer.com.