March 14, 2004 - by
Florida State Nominates Swimmer Tonya Rasor For The Coca-Cola Community All-American Award

March 14, 2004

Tonya Rasor has set the standard when it comes to Florida State student-athletes serving in the community and it is more than the shear number of hours that she has volunteered. Ask anyone at the various organizations she volunteers at and you’ll almost always get the same response. One person who has seen the direct impact of Tonya’s work is Mary Ann Roberts with America Reads. America Reads is a program for first-grade students at low socioeconomic schools who are at risk for reading failure. Volunteers work one-on-one with the students and many times issues outside the student’s lives make it tough for them to learn. Ms. Roberts said that Tonya had one of those cases, but she has stayed committed and now has a student who looks forward to reading. To quote Ms. Roberts: “You can tell how much her heart is into it. She really cares for the children and does a great job. Tonya is a remarkable young woman.” This isn’t the exception it’s the norm and Tonya has had this kind of impact on every organization she has worked with.

While most students spend their spring break at the beach, on the slopes or at home, Tonya used her week off last year to travel to Jamaica with the Beyond Borders program. Beyond Borders is a cross-culture community service exchange program that Florida State has set up with the University of the West Indies. While in Kingston, Jamaica, Tonya and the rest of the students performed various community service activities, including teaching in local schools and helping restore orphanages, churches and community centers.

Tonya Rasor volunteered in Kingston, Jamaica with the Beyond Borders program

Even though she was only there for a week, Tonya’s work had an immense impact on the people of Kingston, in particular the children. Upon arriving at the first school, the Beyond Borders group was surrounded by school children who bombarded them with questions and bright smiles. In the classroom, Tonya taught the children songs, shared stories of what it is like living in America and got a glimpse into the student’s lives. The connection that is made with the kids, while it may have been brief, will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Besides the emotional support that they give, there is physical evidence of the work done by Tonya and her fellow students. Much of their work was done at orphanages where they would clean, paint or make any improvements that they could. The group would also set up libraries or help plant gardens. Given the short period of time that they are there, the students that travel with Beyond Borders sometimes feel that they are not making a difference, but their impact is being felt. Kingston was a better place after Tonya’s trip with Beyond Borders.

With the amount of time that student-athletes have to dedicate to academics and athletics, many complain that they don’t have enough time in their lives to be actual students. You’ll never hear a peep out of Tonya Rasor about having enough time. She’s up at 5:30 a.m. for morning practice, and then goes to class before coming back for the afternoon workout. Somewhere in between all this she manages to volunteer almost ten hours a week, while maintain her high academic standards. This fall she was awarded with the Golden Torch Award for having the highest grade point average in the athletic department with her flawless 4.0 GPA. When it comes to community services, Tonya’s contributions make her the Michael Jordan of volunteering.

Tonya Rasor volunteers with the America Reads program

For the 2003-04 school year, she has volunteered more than 250 hours of community service, distancing the next closest FSU student-athlete by more than 50 hours. She’s doesn’t volunteer because of the accolades she gets or the pats on the back, but rather the feeling she gets from helping a student read or making improvements to an orphanage in another country. Tonya Rasor is the definition of what it means to be a student-athlete.

The Coca-Cola Company has teamed with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) to recognize community service in intercollegiate athletics in NCAA?, NAIA and Junior/Community College member institutions.

The Coca-Cola Community All-Americans program is designed to strengthen the college athlete’s commitment to community service.

In addition to bringing national attention to the issues of volunteerism and community involvement, the Coca-Cola Community All-Americans program is all about recognizing, celebrating and applauding student-athletes who are making a difference in their communities.

Each institution nominates one campus Coca-Cola Community All-American for consideration in the national recognition program. The athletics director completes the national nomination form and submits it for review by March 12, 2004.

After selection, NACDA will notify institutions of the award recipients. Then, each of the selected student-athletes will be asked to write an essay sharing their experience about community service.

The final Coca-Cola Community All-Americans (six in total: Division I-A, I-AA/ I-AAA, II, III, NAIA, and Junior/Community College member institutions) will receive recognition and celebration in the national media, and at the annual NACDA Convention.
Just as exciting, each Coca-Cola Community All-American will receive an award and The Coca-Cola Company will make a $5,000 donation to the philanthropic/community organization of their choice.

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