A Day Filled With Hope and Smiles

September 24, 2015
  • Kids partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • A child gets a kiss on the cheek from two U of M cheerleaders at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids and student-athletes partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.
  • Kids partake in events at the HopeDay Festival.

The annual HopeDay Festival drew its largest crowd ever on a sunny day at TCF Bank Stadium, with nearly 1,000 “HopeKids” in attendance.

The festival, hosted by U of M student-athletes and coaches, began in 2006 and has grown into the largest community service event for Gopher Athletics. 

The day’s festivities included clinics from all 25 Gopher sports and student-athletes, and kids enjoyed a dunk tank, obstacle courses, a hockey shootout, and basketball hoops. In addition, there were pony rides, a petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, and face painting. 

Student-athlete development staff Anissa Lightner, Peyton Owens, Linda Roberts, and Kaela Anderson—along with student-athlete interns Lee Stecklein, women's hockey; Tereza Brichacova, women's tennis; and Vanessa Johnston, rowing—helped plan the event to support HopeKids, an organization that gives hope to children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and their families. 

"It's a great cause and the kids love it," Johnston says. "It's enjoyable seeing them smiling and having a good time at the festival, and knowing that you helped put that smile on their face."