Katie Bigay '13 Kick Starts Fundraising for Typhoon Relief
Before this past year Katie Bigay '13 did not have much experience fundraising. She had helped out with her Senior Class Gift Committee at Haverford, but since graduating she had focused her attention on doing health care research and data analysis for the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance. But when Typhoon Yolanda hit Southeast Asia in November 2013, killing 6300 people and causing more than 2 billion dollars in damages in the Philippines alone, the daughter of Filipino immigrants sprung into action.
“Within the first 24 hours of the media coverage of the typhoon, it was clear to me that I had to respond in some way” says Bigay, who was born and raised in New Jersey and was, herself, directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy last year.“The storm that hit the Philippines was six times stronger than Sandy and the communities were much less developed than places like Asbury Park and Belmar. Having seen how difficult the recovery for New Jersey has been, I could not imagine how hard it would be for the people living in Tacloban.”
Two weeks after Yolanda hit land, Bigay contacted some of her friends from Haverford to launch a project they dubbed“Kick Start the Philippines.” In order to raise as much money as possible for the victims of the tragedy, the former Haverford soccer player and current Drexel University women's club soccer team coach decided to play to her strengths, organizing a 50-person, six-by-six soccer tournament on Drexel's campus on April 12 that raised money with entrance fees and player donations. Kick Start also hosted a fundraising event at the Landmark Tap & Grill, launched an online campaign for donations, and partnered with Synchro Development Corp. and the nonprofit Pass It Forward Soccer to donate soccer balls to a school in the Philippines. (The Kick Start players even used 10“matched” soccer balls in their recent tournament so that each Philadelphia-based player could feel connected to players in the Philippines that they are helping.)
“It has been an awesome and unpredictable journey so far, and I am very proud of how hard the team has worked to keep this initiative going,” says Bigay.“We originally had a goal of raising $1,500, and have just surpassed that goal after holding our soccer tournament.”
And they aren't yet finished fundraising. Kick Start the Philippines will be collecting money through the summer to donate to ABS-CBN Foundation, a local charity committed to improving community development in the Philippines. Bigay, who will begin Rutgers University's public health masters program in the fall, also hopes to be able to send medical supplies to a newly opened women's clinic in Tacloban. The ultimate goal of Kick Start, she says, is to make a donation after the media coverage of the tragedy disappears and the world forgets about the devastation that Typhoon Yolanda caused.
Bigay organized Kick Start the Philippines with her former teammate and Drexel co-coach Katie Van Aken '12 and had help from Kara McMahon â€˜13, and many Fords have aided them in their fundraising effort. Allison Martinez Davis '13 has been maintaining a blog about the project. Ben Van Son '13 and Matthew Liscovitz '13 volunteered at the tournament, and Allie Chen '13, Lindsay Ryan '12, Madalyn Yovanoff '03, Elizabeth Levitan '11, and Meg Boyer '14 all came out to play on April 12.
“Every student, alumnus, parent, and community member can agree that when it comes to humanitarian work, Haverford will rise to the challenge,” says Bigay.“I had confidence that this network of intelligent, determined, and passionate people would stand by me as I worked to help the Philippines. I am very lucky that I have friends who possess that Haverford drive to make a difference in the worldâ€”without them none of this would have been possible.”