2. Need to update your closet with some new championship gear? Visit ucfalumknights.com, sign up with your email and get 25 percent off your first order from Barnes & Noble.
Also, the Orlando Sentinel Media Group announced Friday that it is publishing a book on the Knights’ incredible season called “Perfect Knights.” The hardcover, full-color book is now available for a pre-order discounted price of $24.95. It can be purchased by going to OrlandoSentinel.com/PerfectKnights.
3. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando community will remember the lives of UCF alumni and officers Debra Clayton ’98 ’02MA and Norm Lewis ’04 on Jan. 9, the one-year anniversary of their deaths. The two officers were killed in the line of duty during the attempted apprehension of a wanted homicide suspect. A motorcade that will begin on campus at the Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership will lead the families to a private church service.
4. UCF is seeking your input for its fifth president, so the university will host four opportunities for the campus and Central Florida communities to provide feedback at listening sessions this week. Visit www.ucf.edu/leadership/presidential-search for more information about the sessions, and while you’re there, please consider filling out the UCF Presidential Search Survey.
5. Since this is the first Five Things post of 2018, we’d like to wish you a wonderful year ahead! If it’s anything like 2017, we know it’s going to be great. Check out this retrospective video from the university on just how big last year was for Knight Nation.
ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 24, 2017) – On Dec. 31, 2011, Sarah Dodson ’01 knew New Year’s Eve would never hold the same meaning to her again. After five years of treatment, her 8-year-old daughter Marlie, who dreamed of becoming a UCF cheerleader and nurse, died of a brain tumor (Pineoblastoma).
In 2012, Dodson and her family established a new tradition with the hope that they could re-channel their feelings about the day into a positive experience. As a tribute to Marlie’s life, the family has sponsored a Share-A-Meal each year at the Ronald McDonald House at Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Medical Center.
This year, they’re expanding their efforts to Atlanta where the family of Knights fans will be to support the undefeated UCF football team in its Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl appearance on Jan. 1 against Auburn.
“We were moved by memorializing Marlie for this event, but ultimately it was representing UCF in a community that we’ve been invited to be a part of with this bowl game,” Dodson said. “That was a big piece of it for me – how cool is it that we can represent UCF and give back to this community on something that we’re all so passionate about? What an honor it is to represent UCF in addition to Marlie’s memory.”
The idea to extend the Share-A-Meal to Atlanta was planted at the American Athletic Conference Championship Game on Dec. 2.
A longtime supporter of the football team, Dodson was sitting in the stands at Spectrum Stadium before the last play when her sister turned to her and said, “They’re going to win this game. What are you going to do? I guess you’re going to have to have the Share-A-Meal in Atlanta.”
Dodson said she laughed it off as an unrealistic possibility. She was already committed to their annual meal in Orlando, but the idea stuck with her.
She researched the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and learned of its reputation as college football’s most charitable bowl and its commitment to education and the community’s children. As an educator herself with Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services, it struck a chord.
She also learned the bowl is celebrating its 50th year – it’s golden season. Gold also happens to be the color for childhood cancer awareness. And “forever golden” is how Dodson’s entire family refers to Marlie.
Dodson felt there were too many signs to ignore. Her friends and support system at home told her they would take over the Orlando meal this year and encouraged her to go to Atlanta.
“This has almost been like a movement for Team Marlie. Now we know we can do this anywhere,” she said. “We can have multiple groups travel to any city because we’re so supported. It’s so perfect that it worked out and our first city will be Atlanta, and we’ll be there because of UCF.”
Dodson connected with the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Scottish Rite. They’ll be serving meals to the patients, families, nurses, doctors and hospital staff.
Although Dodson can only bring three helpers onto the floor with her to serve the meals, her entire regular tailgate crew of 12 will help in the preparation.
“Meals are very important for the families who visit the family room. Most families do not want to leave their child’s bedside even if that means going downstairs to the cafeteria, so having a place where they can eat as a family moments away from their hospital room and worry free of cost, is a special treat,” said April Smith, family support services manager for Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. “Families have expressed how grateful and appreciative they are to have groups and individuals volunteer their time to provide and serve warm prepared meals. I was happy to hear Sarah wanted to continue her volunteer work while visiting in Atlanta.”
They also plan to distribute sparkling apple cider and champagne flutes to help create a festive New Year’s Eve atmosphere in the children’s rooms.
Dodson said experiences like these are always a balance of excitement and compassion. Inevitably there will be some tears, but she is looking forward to the opportunity to honor her daughter’s memory on a weekend she knows her little cheerleader would have been thrilled to be a part of.
“This season was something that we’ve all been waiting for. The thing about Marlie was win or lose, she was a fan. I know her pride for this team would be through the roof,” she said. “If I was able to put to words what Marlie might feel, looking down on us, I think mostly she would be excited that we were living life and embracing another community and another group of children. She taught us to live life and to find happiness and love in everyone you come across. Continuing to be her voice and share that passion, I think she’d be excited we have smiles on our faces and are enjoying the experience.”
1. A BIG thank you to everyone who contributed to make Giving Tuesday last week such a success at UCF. Nearly 700 donors gave $71,000 in support of scholarships, athletic and academic programs. It was a record-breaking year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
2. To say there’s *a lot* happening in the world of UCF Athletics is an understatement. Let’s rewind the last 48 hours to catch you up:
> UCF won its third American Athletic Conference championship title after its double-overtime thriller against Memphis at Spectrum Stadium. Improving to 12-0, the Knights remain the only undefeated team in the FBS this season.
> Scott Frost announced he was resigning as UCF’s head coach to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, Nebraska. While we’re sad to see him go, we wish him nothing but the best back at home. Director of Athletics and Vice President Danny White said a nationwide search has begun to find his replacement, and Troy Walters has been named the interim head coach.
> On Sunday, UCF accepted an invitation to compete in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Knights will face Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 1 at 12:30 p.m. Full details about events and tickets can be found on ucfalumni.com/bowlbound and ucfknights.com.
> Sunday also saw the men’s basketball team knock off No. 24-ranked Alabama. It marked the squad’s first true road win over a ranked opponent in program history.
3. The most scenic feature on the UCF campus – the Reflecting Pond – is getting a facelift. Earlier this year, the pond’s aging underground pipes sprung several leaks. And heavy rains during Hurricane Irma caused runoff that damaged some its electrical controls. The renovation will correct those problems, as well as modernize the Reflecting Pond’s technology and features.
4. After nearly 41 years in law enforcement and almost 11 as the leader of the UCF Police Department, Chief Richard Beary announced that he will retire effective June 30, 2018. Beary graduated from UCF in 2004 with a master’s degree in criminal justice. Read his message to fellow UCFPD officers and staff members.
And in case you missed it, UCFPD made some friends on Monday morning when they handed out water to hundreds of students waiting in line – some for more than 10 hours – to purchase their bowl tickets.
5. The second UCF Presidential Search Committee meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m. Those interested in the meeting can watch a livestream through UCF’s official YouTube page.
1. Black Friday is upon us, and all eyes will be on the War on I4. Fresh off its 10th-straight win, the No. 12 UCF football team and No. 19 USF will not only battle for bragging rights in the rivalry series, but the winner will also move on to face Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship game on Dec. 2. UCF Alumni’s Indoor Tailgate will open doors at 12:30 p.m., and the Future Knights Fun Zone will be held in the Dr. Hitt Library of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center this week.
2. Speaking of football, senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin ’16 is up for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, and you can help him become the first UCF male student-athlete to win it. Fan voting accounts for one-third of the total award process, and fans can vote once per day. Vote for Shaquem and while you’re at it, read this recent Sports Illustrated feature that is getting a lot of love.
3. For the sixth consecutive year, a computer programming team from UCF has advanced to compete in the top collegiate programming contest in the world, to be held next April in China. Out of the 40,000-plus students and 13,000-plus teams from more than 100 countries that began the competition this year, 128 teams are expected to meet in China to test their programming skills. Way to go, Knights!
4. In case you missed it, National Philanthropy Day took place last week, and we heard directly from Vice President for UCF Advancement and CEO of the UCF Foundation Mike Morsberger about what service and philanthropy means to UCF. You can make a difference again when Giving Tuesday rolls around on Nov. 28.
5. On Monday, the UCF Presidential Search Committee holds its first meeting at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center from 10 a.m.-noon. The search committee meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live at the UCF Presidential Search website: www.ucf.edu/president-search.
1. Last call to RSVP for Young Alumni’s Headshot Happy Hour! This free event for #AlumKnights ages 32 and younger will take place Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Three21 Marketing, located at 121 S. Orange Ave. Suite 980n. We’ll provide the photographer and food, you just have to show up photo-ready! RSVP by Monday, Nov. 13, to Anne Fitch at [email protected]Event Details
2. Light Up UCF’s opening weekend is upon us! Now in its 10th year, Light Up UCF will run from Nov. 17 through Dec. 31 and will feature all of the fan favorites, including the Ice Rink Pavilion, the Arctic Glide Ice Slide, the Ferris Wheel, the Winter Whirl, and Light Up Lane with photos with Santa. Purchase Tickets
3. The University of Central Florida Facebook page will livestream a special event on Tuesday, Nov. 14, about transitioning from student life to the professional world. The “Adulting in Action Panel” will start at 3 p.m. and features four alumni in various fields.
4. Before Saturday’s football game, UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White, PhD, led a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate construction on the new Roth Athletics Center, the headquarters of athletics administration. The two-story, 38,000-square-foot building will also house the school’s hall of fame honors. A special thanks to donors Bob and Carol Garvy, Tony and Sonja Nicholson and Ken Dixon ’75.
President Hitt holds a special place in many of our hearts. If you are interested in honoring his legacy as president, a friendly reminder that Giving Tuesday is coming up on Nov. 28. Consider making a gift to one of his top priorities and a fund that hits home for him, first-generation scholarships.
2. UCF was excited and honored to host Bill Gates and Melinda Gates on campus last week. The university is turning heads for its innovative technology and educational partnerships to make a high-quality college degree more affordable, accessible and attainable.
3. The No. 7 UCF women’s soccer team clinched the Knights’ first American Athletic Conference championship of the 2017-18 athletics season in front of 1,400 fans Friday at home. UCF rallied to a 1-1- tie against rival USF to win the regular season trophy and earned the rights to host The American’s Women’s Soccer Championship this week. As the top seed, UCF will play the winner of a quarterfinal matchup between UConn and Memphis on Friday at 7 p.m. For more information about the tournament, visit theamerican.org.
4. The UCF football team kept its win streak alive by scoring the most points in a game (73) in school history on Saturday against Austin Peay. At 7-0, the Knights are one of five teams in the country to still boast a perfect record this season, and as a result, jumped to No. 14 in the national rankings. Up next: UCF travels to SMU on Saturday for a 7:15 p.m. matchup on ESPN2. UCF Alumni Chapters from Dallas and Austin have joined forces to host a pregame tailgate for all Knights fans. Click here for all the details.
5. UCF will honor veterans by hosting numerous events and workshops throughout November. The events will recognize veterans for their service and provide the public opportunities to attend workshops and access veteran resources. Rated as “Military Friendly” by G.I. Jobs magazine, UCF is also ranked one of the best universities in the nation for veterans due to the support services available to veterans on their path to graduation.
1. The UCF football team celebrated Knightro’s 23rd birthday with a win at Navy over the weekend in front of a whole bunch of traveling UCF fans to improve to 6-0 on the season and move up to No. 17 in the national polls. Starting at 7 a.m. Monday, UCF Athletics is offering a flash sale of $17 tickets for 17 hours for the Knights’ home matchup against Austin Peay on Saturday.
P.S. Since the Knights picked up their sixth win of the season, the team is officially bowl eligible. We’ll high five to that!
2. UCF can clinch its first American Athletic Conference championship title of 2017-18 on Friday. The No. 7 UCF women’s soccer team hosts USF at 7 p.m. As if the regular season trophy and a showdown with their rival weren’t enough motivation, the Knights can also earn the right to host The American Women’s Soccer Championship from Nov. 1-5.
3. UCF President John C. Hitt held his annual State of the University address last week. Throughout his remarks, Hitt discussed how scale, multiplied with excellence, maximizes UCF’s impact on students and the community. He also reviewed UCF’s big achievements from the past year.
4. For the third consecutive year, UCF has produced more graduates who get hired by aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation. With more than 10,000 students, the College of Engineering and Computer Science is among the nation’s top producers of those in the respective fields.
5. The City of Orlando has chosen UCF alumna, former UCF instructor and Orlando native Susan Lilley ’75 ’80MA as its first poet laureate. A poet laureate is considered the official storyteller of the city, and in her role, Lilley will perform at city events and give presentations to local students throughout her term. Read more about her in this story from the Orlando Sentinel.
1. UCF Football rose in the national rankings to No. 21 thanks to its win at Cincinnati. At 4-0 this season, UCF is one of just 13 remaining undefeated teams in the nation. Thanks to all who attended our official watch parties or traveled to Ohio for the game, and a special shoutout to our Cincinnati and Nashville Alumni Clubs for their spirited tailgate and representing the Black and Gold well!
By the way, if you have plans to travel to the Oct. 21 football game at Navy, our alumni chapters from Washington D.C., New York, Boston and Baltimore have joined forces to host a pregame tailgate for all Knights fans. Click here to learn more about the tailgate.
4. UCF alumnus Eric Ulloa ’04 was featured in the Orlando Sentinel last week for his work on his play, “26 Pebbles,” which had performances over the weekend in Orlando. “This play’s about how communities come together, like Orlando, in the face of tragedy,” said Ulloa in the story. “It shows Americans at their absolute best when handed the absolute worst.”
5. For the first time since it was created in 1999, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office internship program for UCF students has its first all-female class of interns. The six women, all seniors, were chosen by the sheriff’s office from among 42 UCF criminal justice students who applied for the internship.
Looking ahead: As part of Diversity Week, on Oct. 16 and 17 you can help UCF create a special mosaic by adding your own photo to the bigger picture. If you’re interested in contributing, make sure you hashtag your images with #WEAREUCF. Visit the Facebook event page for more details.
2. UCF Athletics handed it to Memphis this weekend. Volleyball started things off Friday with a 3-2 win over the Tigers on the road. Football rolled to a 40-13 trouncing in Saturday’s conference opener to improve to 3-0 on the season. Then, Morgan Ferrara netted a hat trick to lift the No. 13 women’s soccer team to a 5-0 win over Tigers on Sunday. Charge On!
3. The UCF football returned to the national rankings at No. 25 on Sunday, joining the No. 13 women’s soccer team among UCF programs who are currently being recognized among the best in the nation. In honor of the Knights’ ranking, UCF Athletics is offering a special, limited time deal of $25 tickets for their Homecoming matchup against East Carolina. The deal lasts until 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2. Buy your tickets here.
4. Limbitless Solutions had its grand opening Saturday of its new location on campus in Knights Plaza. This video will warm your heart when you see four of the recipients help in the ribbon cutting ceremony:
5. In response to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, UCF will allow students who are residents of Puerto Rico, and are displaced from their homes, to qualify for in-state tuition. “This is a compassionate way to help our students, and I fully support it,” UCF President John C. Hitt said.
1. Thank you to all alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends of UCF who donated to help restock the shelves at Knights Helping Knights Pantry. In just over a week, 459 of you have combined to raise more than $84,000 in addition to hundreds of non-perishable food items that were generously dropped off.
Anyone interested in joining the cause, click here.
2. The UCF football team is coming off a big win at Maryland, and the Knights want to #SelloutSpectrum for their conference opener against Memphis this Saturday at 7 p.m.
If you are watching from afar but wish you could be there in person, consider sending someone to the game in your place. UCF Athletics is encouraging fans to donate tickets for first responders, National Guard members, law enforcement officers and power company employees as a thank you for their efforts during and after Hurricane Irma. To donate tickets, click here.
P.S. Shoutout to the New York UCF Alumni Chapter for representing the Black and Gold proudly on ESPN’s “College GameDay” in Times Square on Sept. 23!
3. UCF Athletics announced last week that the Oct. 14 Homecoming football game will be dubbed the “Space Game” and will honor the university’s long-time ties to the United States space program. Fans will be encouraged to wear black with white shirts among them, giving the illusion of stars in the night sky. Mission Patch T-shirts are currently available at the UCF Bookstore or on online.
4. UCF is making heads turn. The university was recently recognized by “U.S. News & World Report” as one of the top innovative institutions in the country. UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management has been ranked No. 2 in the world as a hospitality and hotel management school, according to “CEOWORLD Magazine.”
5. UCF alumnus Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD knocked it out of the park with his TEDx Talk about prosthetics and Limbitless Solutions earlier this month. See for yourself: