NATCHITOCHES – In recognition of all that donors do to keep Northwestern State University a thriving part of the community, NSU held its fourth annual “Thank a Donor Day”, where students, athletes and staff gathered to show their appreciation in the form of hand-written letters.
Thursday’s gathering in Alumni Plaza is Dr. Haley Taitano’s brainchild, who herself is a former Lady Demon student-athlete as a four-year pole vaulter and record holder on the NSU track and field team.
“It is cool to see how far the event has come in just four years,” Taitano said. “In the beginning, we did not have a lot of people show up because they did not know what it was.
“But now, our student-athletes know what it is and they want to do it. They come and spend more time than we ask them to because they want to thank the donors, and they want to be involved, so it has been cool to see its evolution take place.”
From its origins in the student union ballroom to now being an outdoor event with live music and food provided through a partnership with the NSU and the Demons Unlimited foundations, participation has become an on-campus tradition that allows student-athletes from all sports to pen a letter to a donor of their choosing.
Fresh off participating for the Lady Demons in the Southland Conference’s Cross Country Championships, senior Emily Sitarz took the time to show how much the donor support means to her.
“It is a great feeling knowing that people who have stood in our shoes, or walked on this campus, continue to support it,” Sitarz said. “It inspires us and makes us want to be the best athlete, and best person, for those that came before us at NSU.”
Sitarz thinks the event is just one of the ways NSU mirrors what the city of Natchitoches and its community represent.
“One of the key selling parts for me actually committing to NSU was the sense of community I felt, and I think this day just helps accent that community feel and lets everyone know it is real, said Sitarz, a native of Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada.”
Another student who found time in the throes of preparing for the upcoming season was sophomore pitcher Evan Daigle.
“It is just such a great opportunity to be able to give something back to them,” Daigle said. “They give so much for us to be able to participate, and we appreciate what they do.
“I know it means a lot to them getting a thank you letter each year, but it really means a lot more to us to get the chance to show how thankful we truly are.”
Participation campus-wide was in the hundreds, and a group of Colombian music students serenaded the letter-writers for about half of the four-hour event.