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Philanthropy that hits home

Philanthropy that hits home

Nick Kerver ’21 February 04, 2019

Junior James Walton is using a class opportunity to donate to a cause that connects him close to home.

When Walton’s sister turned 1, she was diagnosed with intellectual disability disorder, a condition that permanently affects her daily living. Walton shared her story during a philanthropy tournament in a sport management class and won $650 to donate to a Columbus-area chapter of Disabled Sports USA.

Disabled Sports USA provides opportunities for sports and recreation for individuals with disabilities, serving more 60,000 individuals across 120 chapters nationwide.

The philanthropy tournament takes place during sport management professor Peter Titlebaum’s sales and fundraising class and is part of the Gary Mioli Leadership in Community Fund, which the University established in 2016. Mioli, a 1979 UD grad, served student-athletes as a football coach in Park Ridge, New Jersey, before his unexpected death in 2014.

Titlebaum credits the tournament to building students’ abilities to share stories about their lives and said he’s “seen students think about themselves differently” because of the exercise.

Walton said he had not told his story to anyone in the past, but was able to express himself while presenting before a panel of judges.

“Through [the tournament] I found out a lot about myself and my passion,” he said.

To get others interested in his mission, Walton contacted family and friends who were proud that Walton chose a charity “from [his] heart.” Walton said he credited his family’s support and Titlebaum’s guidance for his presentation’s success.

Walton hopes that sport management programs across the country will use philanthropy as a way to facilitate experiential learning while also providing an opportunity to give back. “We’re all helping each other,” he said.

During his presentation, Walton also offered a quote from U.S. women’s soccer player Abby Wambach — “To watch people push themselves further than they think they can is a beautiful thing” — that helped inspire his idea and pushed him to show the connection between sports and fitness. He told the class how his sister and countless other disabled Americans could be helped by his cause.

Regardless of the final result, Walton’s motivation was to celebrate his sister and leave a legacy to make his family proud. Walton is from the San Francisco Bay Area and hopes to pursue a career in sport marketing.