When senior Ivan Santagiuliana’s grandparents in Italy died from complications of coronavirus, his teammates on the Grace College men’s soccer team could not rally around him as they normally would.
Instead of living, studying and training together on their campus in Winona Lake, Indiana, the team is currently scattered around the U.S. and the world, finishing their coursework from home and practicing social distancing.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t also find ways to support their teammates, or have a positive impact on the world, during their time apart. When head coach Arron Patrick came up with the idea for the team to raise money for COVID-19 relief, sophomore Tyler Brueckman took the idea and ran with it — literally.
With Brueckman organizing, the team initially agreed to participate in a 48-hour relay run and collect donations via GoFundMe. Starting at noon on Wednesday, April 1, team members would take turns running around their neighborhoods in 20-minute shifts, ending at noon Friday.
But, after the first 24 hours passed, they were so encouraged by tremendous community support and a rapid increase in giving that they decided to make their relay a full week around the clock.
“Running is a part of our sport,” said sophomore Cole Voss. “It’s just something that we do. Since God gave us the ability to run, why not do it and help others?”
International teammates inspire global outreach
Since their teammates hail from nearly a dozen different countries, the ‘round the clock relay made sense — those living internationally could be awake and running while their American teammates were asleep. The team’s international makeup, magnified by Santagiuliana’s tragic loss, also led them to choose IMA World Health as one of their fundraiser’s beneficiaries.
“We wanted to select certain organizations that have direct connections to our Grace College family,” Brueckman said. “We have a bunch of international players on our soccer team, so an international organization was a big idea for us. After doing research through many foundations, [IMA World Health] fit our needs. Being a faith-based, international organization really appealed to our goal to make an impact while glorifying God.”
IMA World Health’s COVID-19 response
Charity Navigator, an evaluator of charities, has listed IMA World Health among the most trustworthy organizations providing medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMA has significant experience in responding to disease outbreaks, like the most recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and deep partnerships with faith-based health care networks across Africa. With these partners, IMA is rushing equipment and supplies to health workers on the front lines, equipping community and faith leaders to educate families about COVID-19, supporting local tracing of those who have come in contact with the disease to track and contains its spread, and more.
IMA is also working to pivot existing health programs around the world to include coronavirus response.