TALLAHASSE, Fla. – Over 40 Florida State student-athletes and members of the athletic department will head to Panama City to help the community clean up damage left by Hurricane Michael on March 31 from 9 a.m. CT- 2:30 p.m.
Students and staff from the Panama City campus will join the effort as well across the two designated locations at 101 W. Branch Drive and 300 Luverne Avenue.
“Our department mantra is to serve, lead and live unconquered,” FSU Assistant Athletics Director of Student-Athlete Development and Leadership Ashton Henderson said. “This trip aligns with our mission and we are elated to partner with our brothers and sisters in Panama City Beach to help provide relief throughout this difficult time.”
Since January, sophomore swimmer Patrick Butkovich has spearheaded the project by arranging for volunteers. Following Hurricane Michael, which was the strongest storm to impact the Florida Panhandle in history, Butkovich began volunteering with the American Red Cross and delivering supplies to Panama City.
While on the drive to the Panhandle, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native realized he needed to get others involved.
“We were about an hour away and there was a ton of damage,” Butkovich said. “I figured since we were not affected as badly and we had the resources to help that we should do something. I told the Director of Student-Athlete Development and Events Sarah (Petronio) and Ashton my idea and they helped me get the ball rolling on this project.”
Members from seven FSU athletic teams that are not in the peak of their spring seasons will make the trip to help clean up parks and beaches including Panama City natives Janarius Robinson (football), Chad McGuire (swimming and diving) and Ella Swigler (Track & Field).
Additionally, Chandler Haligas, a junior on the all-girls cheer squad will make the trip. Haligas is the daughter of Jenna Haligas, who is the Commissioner of the City and a vital part of organizing the opportunity.
“Jenna Haligas, Ashton and Sarah have been absolutely vital in this processes,” Butkovich added. “I’d like to thank them for helping organize this event. I’d also like the thank the student-athletes that will be making the trip with me on Sunday. This event would not be possible without their willingness to give up their time and give back to the community.”
The public is encouraged to come out and volunteer with the student-athletes. Lunch will be provided.