WIU Athletics Sets New Record During Western Challenge Day of Giving


On Wednesday, Leatherneck Alumni and Supporters from all over the country stepped up to the university’s Western Challenge. Leatherneck Athletics led all Western Illinois University departments with a record-breaking $179,218 in donations from more than 330 donors. 

The funds raised shattered the department’s previous record of money raised, marking a 454% increase from 2023 when the Leathernecks raised $32,339. The 332 donors also set a new record, up from 155 in 2023.

“Leatherneck alumni, parents, and friends spoke during the Western Challenge with their personal resources, and it was noticed,” said Paul A. Bubb, Director of Athletics. “The work done by our staff and coaches, in preparing for the Western Challenge led to a great day, and I cannot emphasize enough how appreciative I am for those who stepped up with matching gifts and challenges during the day.”

The Western Challenge is a 24-hour online giving event that unites the Leatherneck community in giving back to support various campus initiatives, including specific colleges, departments, academic and athletic programs, and other causes at WIU. The day is also celebrated as Purple and Gold Day in honor of the university’s founding on April 24, 1899.

“Record-setting days like Wednesday cannot happen without the support of alumni, the Leatherneck Club, and the community,” said Dr. Tayler Onion, Assistant Athletic Director for Development. “We are very grateful for all those who contributed to make the 2024 Western Challenge the best yet for Leatherneck Athletics!” 

This year’s Western Challenge had a record number of match and challenge contributions for athletics as supporters matched donations dollar for dollar, doubling gifts to specific causes. Included in the matching gifts to WIU Athletics were:

  • $500 to Women’s Soccer – Victoria Kappel
  • $1,000 to Women’s Golf – Cathy Early
  • $1,000 to Baseball – Connie Kowal 
  • $1,000 to Men’s Soccer – Skip and Jan Begley 
  • $3,000 to Leatherneck Club General Fund – Jim and Debbie Carter
  • $4,000 to the Hunter Mason Scholarship – Jeremy Robinett
  • $5,000 to Leatherneck Club (Various Designations) – Ed and Sue Holzwarth
  • $20,000 to Football – Keith Blue 
  • $25,000 to Men’s and Women’s Golf – Eric Gleacher
  • $30,000 to Volleyball – Marilyn Cichowski (in honor of Dr. Michele Touvelle)

In addition to the record-setting day for WIU Athletics, the university also recorded its best Western Challenge ever, receiving gifts from more than 1,100 donors for a total of over $432,000.

WIU Athletics would like to extend a huge thank you to those who made a gift in support of our 17 varsity teams and nearly 400 student-athletes during Wednesday’s event. Although this year’s 2024 Western Challenge has come to a close, those interested can still support their favorite cause by joining the Leatherneck Club at this link.

***Courtesy of Western Illinois University***

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