Tuition win fulfills student's dream of a full-time philanthropic career
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Nine months ago, Wesley Boone's dream was to be able to work full-time after graduation from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to provide free sports equipment for children in developing countries.
Today, that dream is a reality, thanks to Dr. Pepper and Boone's football-tossing skills.
The IUPUI philanthropic studies sophomore won a $100,000 scholarship in the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway during halftime of the ACC Football Championship game Dec. 5 in Charlotte, N.C.
One of 16 finalists in competitions held in association with the ACC, Big Ten, PAC-12 and SEC conference title games, Boone threw 18 footballs into a barrel during a 30-second final round to win the grand prize.
Boone, a 19-year-old Crawfordsville, Ind., native, founded and runs Gear Going Global, a nonprofit that collects and sends new and gently used sports gear to underprivileged children around the globe.
In an interview for a March issue of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy weekly newsletter, Boone expressed his career desire:
"After graduation, I hope to be able to support myself with Gear Going Global," Boone said, or he will look for "a managerial or administrative position at a sports facility such as Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, or Grand Park," hopefully incorporating new partners into his mission with Gear Going Global.
With his Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway winnings, "I will be able to pay off my college debt, and outside of school I can focus more on growing Gear Going Global," Boone said, two days after winning the competition. "I can put more time into fundraising events to collect more sports gear to send to children."
At age 16, Boone founded Gear Going Global after watching a PBS documentary in which children were seen playing soccer with rocks and pieces of trash instead of soccer balls.
Combining his own love of sports with a philanthropic drive resulted in the creation of Gear Going Global and Boone's decision to seriously pursue philanthropic studies.
Since then, Boone's nonprofit has provided soccer balls, baseballs, baseball mitts and bats, jump ropes, and other sports gear to children in 15 countries, including Cameroon, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Thailand.
Seeing children with the donated sports gear his nonprofit collects has been very rewarding, the IUPUI student said.
"We request pictures of the kids," Boone said. "Seeing the looks on the children's faces when they get gear ... They are so happy. [The gear] is not something they get every day. It's like Christmas for them. They just enjoy it."
Boone's philanthropic endeavors through Gear Going Global have garnered national attention through articles published by The Christian Science Monitor and Yahoo.com. He also recently earned the prestigious Jefferson Foundation Award in the LEAD360 Challenge, which recognizes and encourages the giving of local unsung heroes.
The IUPUI student earned a place in the Dr. Pepper competition by submitting a 350-character story on Facebook, earning 50 votes and then submitting a one-minute video about his plans for the money if he won the contest.
"THANK YOU Dr. Pepper for giving me the incredible opportunity of competing for $100,000 in the Tuition Giveaway!" Boone posted to his website on Monday. "Winning the $100,000 will allow me to graduate with a philanthropic degree from the School of Philanthropy at IUPUI without any debt which will allow me to grow Gear Going Global faster and ultimately give the gift of play to more children in developing countries."
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