Alex's Lemonade Stand, Northwestern Mutual, and MU Crew - A Winning Partnership

Mary Cordes '17 (Varsity Women)

Major: Political Science & History

Hometown: Houston, Texas

This fall, I had the opportunity to serve as Fundraising Chair on the board for our team. I leapt at this chance because I know that fundraising is a key part of how our team can continue to afford to operate and travel to compete. In addition to raising money for the team to spend, I also am in charge of our team philanthropy. It is tradition that every year Marquette Rowing chooses a charity to give back to as a team. My job as Fundraising Chair is to pick a charity among the many suggested by our rowers and then have the entire team vote to decide where we will concentrate our efforts. We seek to raise money and awareness on Marquette’s campus and in the Milwaukee community. In the past, we have chosen charities that our rowers are involved in or charities based in the Milwaukee area. This year was a little special for us. We unanimously chose to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, an organization that raises money for childhood cancer research. We chose Alex’s Lemonade Stand because it hits close to home for the team this year, as one of our rowers’ siblings is battling leukemia. Each fall brings a new class of Novice rowers, and Kaitlin, one of our Novice Women from Seattle, has a younger sister who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Once we knew, it was an easy choice. The entire squad wanted to do anything we could to help our teammate.

As a fate would have it, our Novice Women’s coach Gina Pagán is a Financial Representative at Northwestern Mutual, and Northwestern Mutual’s corporate charity is Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Coach Gina told her coworkers what our team wanted to do, and we received an immense amount of support from the Northwestern Mutual Greater Milwaukee office. The office has partnered with us to put on events, like our Erging for the Eagles fundraiser, where we erg outside of the Marquette basketball games to raise money for our philanthropic efforts. With Northwestern Mutual’s help and the enthusiasm of the team for such a great cause, we raised a record-breaking amount of money this fall.

This cause brought all of our squads together in a way that fundraising has never done for the team before. Any rower will tell you the crew is the ultimate team sport. I can truly say that I have never witnessed how strong our team bonds are until I saw every one of our rowers shivering outside of a basketball game with a genuine smile on their face, asking for donations to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. I honestly believe that our fundraising numbers were so high because our team wants to do everything they can to support Kaitlin and her family,  as she is one of our Marquette Crew family. That being said, I see a bright future for the partnership between Marquette Crew, Northwestern Mutual, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. More information on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation can be found on their website, in case you’re curious about all of the great work that they do. To those of you who have supported us this year, I want to thank you on behalf of the board and the team!


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