For the 2015-2016 Niagara University athletics season, the seats were full and the Gallagher Center was loud in support of the Purple Eagles men’s basketball and hockey teams as they played at home against various opponents.
This season, there were special guests among the crowd thanks to the St. Vincent Seat Program offered through the Athletics Office and the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement.
The St. Vincent Seat Program is an effort to provide community members who may not normally be able to attend a sporting event the opportunity to see a men’s basketball or hockey game on Niagara University’s campus. This year, thanks to the generosity of Niagara University season ticket holders, 50 tickets to men’s home basketball games and 25 tickets to home hockey games were allotted for distribution to various community organizations.
Sixteen organizations benefited from this year’s free St. Vincent Seat Program, including Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc., The Connection, Kidz Club, and the Boys and Girls Club. Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara was also able to benefit from their visits to Niagara University sporting games, as evidenced by this comment:
“Please thank the St. Vincent Seat Program for enabling so many adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to attend basketball and hockey games at Niagara University this academic year! Integration into the community is so valued and so important to the people we support here at Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara. However, that ‘integration’ is often associated with a high price tag, which is not affordable for many of our individuals. Attending a sporting event had a healing effect on two gentlemen who do not always find common ground easily with each other. Frank and John enjoyed themselves at the Feb. 9 Niagara University basketball game. They sat together, talked, pointed things out to each other about the game, and had a great time all around. What a great opportunity this was!”
The St. Vincent Seat Program will return for the 2016-2017 season. Season ticket holders and community members who would like to get involved with the program are asked to contact Steve Butler, deputy director of athletics, at ude.aragain@reltubs or 716.286.8602.