By Grant Ryerse
I have been participating in a program called Kicking Against Cancer that helps to raise money for cancer research. As a high school football kicker, I’ve asked for pledges that are proportionate to the number of successful kicks I make during the season.
Doing this project has been a great way for me to learn and contribute. My donors have helped me raise $5,000 over the last three years. This year, I am hoping to increase the impact and I’m partnering with a local sports broadcaster and his foundation that runs Tackle Cancer football games across Minnesota.
I don’t call this project-based learning–to me it’s like a fundraiser, but I know teachers call it that and I see that doing projects like this are different than usual volunteer activities or homework. It has helped me and others in several ways:
How It Has Helped Me
- Committing to making a difference. I saw how a man who I look up to combined his passion and his skills to make a difference. He saw the pain of his mother-in-law having ovarian cancer so he started a foundation to focus on ovarian cancer research. Hearing his experience watching her suffer and vowing to develop research around early cancer detection inspired me to join the cause and help make a difference.
- Practicing project skills. While I really like the immediate satisfaction of coaching or helping a younger kid, this volunteer experience is different from my other experiences because I’m learning project skills too.
- Building leadership skills. It helps me to step out of my comfort zone and ask other people to join me and I plan to continue this process as a student-athlete at the University of Minnesota.
- Using communication skills. I see now how email, social media and personal contact are all part of the process and how important communication is to success.
- Starting small and growing over time. The first year I had just a small group of donors and raised about $500. Last year, my total was almost $3,000.
- Contributing. Joining a group of football kickers around the country who raise money in this way has been a great way for me to contribute and be part of something bigger than me and my community.
How I Hope it is Helping Others
- Working together. I’ve worked with professional football players and our local newscasters to do this project. It’s a fun way to see that a lot of people want to make a difference. I kick with groups like Michael Husted’s National Camp Series (NCS) and Chris Sailer Kicking and it’s good to make a difference with them, too.
- Raising money. It’s been good to be part of larger groups raising money to maximize our impact.
- Increased awareness and promoted research. I think this has raised awareness among people I know and have asked to help.
How it Works (and How You can Help if You Want)
The support we raise together will be directed to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.
People pledge a dollar amount for each kick I make for East Ridge High School during the 2016 season and playoffs.
Options of how people donate include:
- A one-time donation (for example, $25)
- Pledging a certain amount of money for each kick. The most common pledges last year were:
- $1 for every extra point,
- $3 for each field goal,
- $1 for each touchback on kickoffs, and
- $2 for each punt downed inside the 20-yard line.
- I make sure people know these are tax-deductible and I give people an update at the end.
— Grant Ryerse (@gryerse80) August 22, 2016
I know a lot of kids are doing good things, and I’m sure there are ways students could adapt this idea to work for other sports or activities.
For more on project-based learning, see the recent publication Preparing Students for a Project-based World, follow along on social media using the hashtags #DeeperLearning and #ProjectBased, and check out:
- It’s a Project-Based World. Let’s Prepare Students for It.
- Getting Smart Podcast | It’s a Project-Based World and a PBL Movement
- Educating for Impact in a Project-Based World
Grant Ryerse is a senior at East Ridge High School in Minnesota, you can follow him on Twitter at @gryerse80. If you want to learn more or want to contribute to Grant’s fundraiser, please check out this link or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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