Published on April 11th, 2017 | by Emily Goldberg0
Athletics department joins together for beloved professor
Families stick together, especially during difficult times. The Athletic Training, Exercise Science and Athletics Departments joined together to fundraise for a beloved faculty member as she learned of some life-changing news.
Gayle Olson has been working at Florida Southern for the past three and a half years as an Athletic Training Clinical Instructor. She works mostly with the athletic teams and teaches the sophomore and junior practicum classes each semester for the Athletic Training Department.
Athletic Training majors have described her as someone who is very welcoming and is always the first to help.
“We didn’t have class once because she was teaching a World Figure Skating class in Boston so to make up for it, we went to her house and she taught us different tape jobs and fed us dinner,” junior Heather Barkley said.
At the beginning of March, Barkley received a text from the director of the department, Sue Stanley-Green, telling her to spread the word about a mandatory meeting that was to be held the next day. At this meeting, the faculty stood up and said we are a family and when something happens to a family, everyone has the right to know.
Sue then proceeded to tell the group that Gayle had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
At that point, the faculty and all of the certified athletic trainers knew, but none of the athletes had heard the news. Within the next two weeks, the secret spread and the athletes were aware of the heart-breaking news.
Healthcare Administration major Madi Kerin is taking an Athletic Training Administration class just to fill a spot in her schedule. When she found out about Gayle, she wanted to get her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha involved. Zeta’s national philanthropy is breast cancer awareness, education and prevention.
Kerin asked her president if they could ask for donations at their table at the women’s and men’s basketball game. Because most of the athletes were still unaware of Gayle’s news, they didn’t use her name and asked for donations to support “a faculty member of FSC.” They ended up raising a total of $180 at the game.
“It was something to show support and I had the chapter sign a card and put the check in there and Gayle loved it. She was so appreciative and was caught off guard,” Kerin said.
Seeing Kerin and her sorority sparked more ideas to help Gayle.
Barkley set up a t-shirt fundraiser to help raise funds for a cancer charity of Gayle’s choice. The shirts were available for all of the athletics department and the athletic training students and staff.
Although the fundraiser lasted less than two weeks, Barkley sold 159 shirts for a total of $1,180. Each shirt cost $7 and the extra $3 will be donated. About $300 will be donated to Moffitt Cancer Center, which deals with many different kinds of cancers.
Gayle is set to return to FSC in about two weeks.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of cancer in my family or people close to me so sometimes, I understand how people might feel alone,” Barkley said. “A lot of athletic trainers don’t get thanked for what they do, I didn’t want her to feel alone and I wanted to make sure that she knew that everything she does, doesn’t go unnoticed.”