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Athletes Give Back When NAIA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Championships Come to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

23 May, 2019


Character should be at the forefront for any athlete or team, and it is the central thread for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as an estimated 1,200 student-athletes head to Gulf Shores, Ala. for the Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Championships May 23-25, 2019. The Champions of Character program®is what makes NAIA stand out, impacting each of its host cities by changing the culture of sport.

Student-athletes representing schools from all over the country will continue a project from 2018 in partnership with Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program, donating 1,128 pounds – or 950 meals – to local children.

"The Champions of Character® and Teaming Up for Character Event™ are what set apart NAIA championships from others," said Katie Green, manager of athletics communications and media for NAIA. "The student-athletes always look forward to it. Last year I got to see the student-athletes pack all of the food that was brought and you could see the pure joy on their faces because they knew they were making a difference in the community."

Locals are invited to partner with the NAIA during this Teaming Up for Character Event™. Through Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program, donated food items will be distributed to local children whom teachers and counselors have identified as struggling with chronic hunger and in need of food to get through a weekend. These food items are discretely placed in students’ backpacks, with each student getting enough food for six meals and two snacks.

Requested items include pop-top meals such as beef ravioli and soups; single-serve microwaveable macaroni and cheese; snack items such as pudding cups, applesauce and fruit snacks; and breakfast items such as single-serve oatmeal and granola bars. Student-athletes will accept and sort donations Wednesday, May 22 at the Gulf Shores Welcome Center (3459 Gulf Shores Parkway) from 9-10 a.m.

The championships will be held at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex (19025 Oak Road). Day passes are $10 and tournament passes are $25. In 2018, the event generated $3.44 million in economic impact, and the contract for the NAIA outdoor track championships has been extended through 2021.

To learn more about donating to the backpack program, contact Taylor Smith at 251-974-4613 or TSmith@GulfShores.com. Visit NAIA.org for more on the NAIA. For information on upcoming athletic events along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, visit GulfShores.com/Sports, or call 1-800-745-SAND.

About Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission is a partnership between Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism (GSOBT), the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. In 2007, this commission became a department within GSOBT. In this role, the commission – along with assistance from both cities – works to bring quality sporting events to Alabama’s Gulf Coast. To learn more about playing along Alabama’s 32 miles of white-sand beaches, please visit GulfShores.com/Sports.

About National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs dedicated to championships in balance with the overall college educational experience. Each year more than 65,000 NAIA student-athletes have the opportunity to play college sports, earn over $600 million in scholarships, and compete for a chance to participate in 26 national championships. naia.org | @NAIA

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