Today is the second-ever Gator Nation Giving Day.
Following the success of its Stand Up and Holler campaign in 2019, this is the University of Florida’s effort to roll charitable contributions to the school into one single-day effort that helps produce headlines and gaudy totals.
It’s a bit of a racket, if I’m going to be completely honest. The University of Florida has an endowment in excess of $2 billion. That money is making nine figures a year in investment income alone — in 2018, “endowment investment performance net of all investment management fees and expenses added another $141 million,” which was more than twice what the Endowment Pool received in donor support — and is going to go a lot further than you think.
Institutions as large, august, and smartly-run as UF don’t actually need the help of the masses to perpetuate their existence, something my fine UF education helped teach me.
But UF doesn’t just use that endowment — or your charity — to build a bulwark against any possible existential threats. That money could go to research efforts, to the hiring of talented faculty, to the recruitment of excellent students. It provides for students who could not have otherwise afforded a college education, helps a student-directed charity effort that changes the lives of children, protects a foothold for diversity at a predominantly white institution that has struggled to appeal to and admit non-white students in recent years.
And from where I sit as a “member” of “the press,” I think your giving this year should go toward building the legacy of the late Ed Aschoff.
The Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund, established earlier this year in Aschoff’s memory, “will provide support for College of Journalism and Communications students involved in sports journalism.” If I know the people whom I suspect will be responsible for allocating funds from it as well as I think I do, any cent you give to that fund is going to go to someone who aspires to be what Ed was — succinctly, “the future of Gator greatness,” to quote his former professor and friend Benny Torres.
Because my beat and his beat weren’t quite the same one, I never met Ed; I knew him mostly through those I know who did, and a few online interactions with him. But I was inspired by him — and still am, and hope that I will be until I leave this plane — because his was a life lived in pursuit of truth and love, with curiosity and kindness winning out over fear and trepidation, and a life devoted to finding stories worth telling and telling them well, and a life remembered by those who loved him as one spent helping people.
The world would be a much better place with Ed Aschoff still in it. It will be a much better place if we can encourage and support people who follow in his spirit to do the things his too-short life didn’t allow him to do — and then, someday, things beyond his dreams.
If you’re inclined to give to the University of Florida on this Gator Nation Giving Day, I encourage you to give in support of the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund.
If you need a specific amount to give — especially if money is tight — I’ll suggest $17.16.
Watch this and you’ll get why.
And, hey, if you got this far: Maybe watch the play again, too.