Amidst a historic year for MidAmerica Nazarene University -- which, in 2016, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the school's founding -- the athletics program has written history of its own.
The Pioneers claimed the NAIA women's basketball national championship last month, a feat that came less than four months after the men's soccer team reached the NAIA title game in December.
The sports success comes for a school that strives for excellence across campus, from academics to athletics, and ultimately extends that commitment well beyond the classroom.
Which is why, in 2009, MNU students started an annual Passion to Serve Project to raise funds for places and people in need around the world. A health clinic in Guatemala. An orphanage in Kenya. Families in Zambia. A school in Haiti.
This year's project, LQVE HAITI, aims to raise $50,000 to advance the work of MNU student Quincy Foster, who traveled to Haiti on an MNU mission trip in 2013. A former member of the MNU women's soccer team, Foster died tragically in a car accident last year at age 20.
Last summer, 13 volunteers traveled to Haiti to begin work on the project (photos) and earlier this year, on the one-year anniversary of her death, "Quincy's Field" was dedicated in Cascade Pichon, Haiti (photos). LQVE HAITI will continue to develop soccer programs, including camps and tournaments, in addition to providing basic healthcare services when service projects teams travel to four communes -- Anse-a-Pitres, Thiotte, Grand-Gosier, and Belle-Anse -- in Haiti.
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The Swope Park Rangers will be showing support for LQVE HAITI by hosting a silent auction - featuring SPR memorabilia -- on Wednesday during the team's home match at Swope Soccer Village. In addition, fans are encouraged to donate new or gently used soccer equipment for children in Haiti.
The collection bins and silent auction will be located inside the North Victory gates in the northeast corner of Children's Mercy Victory Field. The MidAmerica Nazarene University men's soccer team, led by head coach Kevin Wardlaw, will also be recognized on field at halftime in acknowledgement of their outstanding 2015-16 season.