Video by Christy Soto | Broadcast Reporter and story by Meghan Mitchell | Sports Editor
Members of the Baylor Bear Foundation were treated Wednesday morning to Breakfast with the Bears, an event that allows them get to know a few students athletes better. The annual Donor Appreciation Week honors those who give to provide experiences and educational resources and opportunities to student-athletes kicked off Monday and continues through Sunday.
While many have seen these athletes perform in their respective sports, John Morris, the Voice of the Bears, kicked off the event with a Q&A in order for the Bear Foundation members to get an up close and personal view of these athletes.
Staiger, who has made her name known on the volleyball court, said the support she has pushes her to perform at her best both on and off the court.
“Being a student-athlete here at Baylor has been truly so incredible. Just the way everyone in the athletic department and everyone in the Bear Foundation pour into you has truly just been incredible,” Staiger said. “They care about you more than just athletics. They care about you academically, spiritually, and just investing in you as a person.”
Judith and George Staples, Waco residents and members of the Bear Foundation, said Baylor runs in their blood. They have been a part of the Bears Foundation for as long as they can remember.
“We moved here to retire in Waco eight years ago from New York. George graduated from Baylor, and we also have had three sons graduate from here. This is a great place for retirement,” Judith said. “We love RG3, we have followed him for quite some time, and the women’s basketball players. We feel like we can get a little closer to them through the Tip Off Club, but every year, we can’t wait for football season to start, and immediately after that women’s basketball. It’s just a great thing for us, and we actually plan vacations around the games. It’s just a family. We are big supporters of the Bear Foundation, and we just love everything about Baylor.”
The Staples’ have gone above just supporting the athletes. They have taken in international students to be their family away from home.
“We love watching the students and supporting them. We get all into it, cheering and buying all the gear and going places,” Judith said. “We have also adopted some international students at Baylor just to give them a family, so they can be in a home and do some things with us around here.”
Hawthorne said because of the kindness of the Baylor community and Baylor Bear Foundation members such as the Staples’, his experience at Baylor has been amazing.
“It means the world to me to be a student-athlete. Everyone is pouring into you with tremendous family support,” Hawthorne said. “Just coming here, watching Waco grow and feeling at home. I would say it has impacted my life tremendously.”
On Saturday Baylor Bear Foundation members and their families are encouraged to come out to McLane Stadium to watch the Bears’ road game against West Virginia, which will be broadcast on the big screen. Adding on to the excitement of this private event, members will be treated to inflatables, free food and t-shirts while supplies last.