Unable to attend any of the major protests sweeping across the country, Evann Smith, a freshman soccer player at UCSB, wanted to do something to support the movement for change after the death of George Floyd.
So she and a handful of college athletes helped organize an event that included a GoFundMe fundraiser with initial goal of raising $1,000 for Black Lives Matter.
They raised almost $80,000 and drew participation from more than 200 schools, according to Smith.
"It just blows my mind how much support was given to us, the athletic community, and to the Black Lives Matter movement,'' Smith, a Black woman, told USA TODAY Sports.
They were not alone.
A dozen groups of college athletes used GoFundMe to raise $128,780 for Black Lives Matter, based on a search of the crowdfunding platform's website.
Smith's group gained momentum on social media thanks in part to the hashtags #athletez4blm and #athletes4chnges. On Monday, participants were encouraged to walk, run, bike and/or swim 8.46 miles — a nod to the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Floyd's neck was pinned to the ground under a white police officer's knee May 25 before the unarmed African-American man died.
"This event made me realize that activism isn't just through protest,'' Smith said. "You can use different avenues to support positive changes.''
(Article appeared in the June 14 edition of USA TODAY)