Sustaining Flight virtual auction raises funds for FGCU’s student athletes
Florida Gulf Coast University’s normal fundraiser for its athletic department—Night at the Nest, a night where the department invites people to the Alico Arena for dinner and an auction—can’t happen this year due to the pandemic.
It’s the school’s most successful fundraiser, raking in $675,000 last year to help cover student athlete scholarships. This year the fundraiser is taking on a new name: Sustaining Flight.
COVID-19 tests for players and coaches are mandatory, and it’s adding up for the athletic department during a time when ticket sales are limited and events are being canceled.
To help with the growing costs, Sustaining Flight is taking off as a virtual auction, with prizes ranging from signed memorabilia to a trip to meet FGCU alum and Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale.
Alisa Clark, who has played on the FGCU golf team for the last four years, says the generosity of the community during their silent auction has allowed her program to participate in more competitive tournaments.
“We’re able to use that money for additional tournaments, additional flights, travel time, so last year my team and I went to Kiawah Island and we competed in one of the biggest tournaments with 52 or 53 teams there,” Clark said. “And so without that donation or addition to our program we wouldn’t be able to do that and have such a great experience.”
Graham Diemer, associate athletics director for advancement, says raising money this year is even more important, as the department faces a $2 million budget deficit.
“Really it’s just a night where all the funds go toward helping the student athletes, and moving into what we’re doing with this year,” Diemer said. “The increased expenses for testing and the lost revenues from some of the contests that weren’t played, that’s really where we’re headed with this year.”
Items up for auction will start to close around 7 p.m. Friday.