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UD Community Joins with Pro Players Foundation to Bring Joy to Local Preschoolers

By Megan Wagner, MH ’16

Building on the success of last fall's Big Bike Build, the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business community is already making plans for continued partnership and another build with the Pro Players Foundation (PPF). As part of Charity Week, students, faculty and staff gathered outside SB Hall to assemble 50 bikes for local preschoolers in need. The bikes would benefit students of Mi Escuelita preschools in Dallas. Mi Escuelita has seven campuses across the city, which primarily serve low-income Spanish-speaking families. Mi Escuelita’s aim is to increase English language proficiency in their students so that the transition to kindergarten is successful. 

These are the very students who PPF seeks to support. PPF is a nonprofit organization that partners with professional sports teams’ players to enrich the lives of children and families in need across North Texas. It offers assistance to youth who are overcoming dire needs and provides opportunities for future success with the help of corporate sponsors, professional sports teams partners, an advisory board and an army of community volunteers. The pro athletes who volunteer with PPF actively serve and make a difference in the lives of young people through Kids in Need, building community sports facilities and STEAM Makerspace areas, and collecting and refurbishing old sporting equipment through their “Play It Forward” program. Partnering with other organizations for a Big Bike Build is another way they contribute to the community.   

Associate Professor of Marketing Scott Wysong, Ph.D., helped coordinate the Big Bike Build on UD’s campus. He had worked with PPF previously, found out about this initiative and thought a build seemed like a great way both to raise awareness of the foundation and to involve the UD community. 

The relationship between UD and PPF dates back nearly 10 years. 

Wysong explained, “We have done a number of Capstone projects (the last class our MBA students take, where they work on a consulting project for an actual organization) for PPF over the past 10 years. PPF works tirelessly to help kids in North Texas who are less fortunate, and we wanted to be a part of that via the Gupta Big Bike Build.”

Chief Operating Officer of PPF Rebecca Leppert elaborated on the relationship between the foundation and UD and their common interest in helping local families in need: "Pro Players Foundation's mission is to help kids in need across North Texas. The University of Dallas' Gupta College of Business, its students and staff hold a similar passion to change the future of children who are struggling in the community around them,” she said. “Our program the Big Bike Build, which promotes the physical and mental health of youth, allows volunteering opportunities for the sponsors' employees, and in this case students as well, to team build while they build bikes for kids ages 3-5 years old. 

“Sponsors have a unique opportunity to meet the kids whose lives they are changing,” added Leppert. “In November, the Gifting Day at Mi Escuelita was filled with smiles, laughter and hugs from children and parents for our University of Dallas and Pro Players Foundation Volunteers. We at PPF value our relationship with the University of Dallas' Gupta College of Business, and hope to continue changing lives in the community together." 

The Gupta College of Business, along with a few sponsors, covered the cost of 50 bike kits and 50 helmets. On the day of the build, they also provided food for participants, music and entertainment in the form of adult tricycle races. Pro Players Foundation brought the Mavs Man and Champ with them and set up a tent outside of SB Hall. This made for a fun and inviting atmosphere as the UD community came together to serve.    

Spencer Hyde and Hugh Gowans, both business majors from the Class of 2025, shared their perspective as students who participated in the build: "Performing acts of charity is what Christ calls us to do. It is a twofold satisfaction — for students, knowing we are blessed and putting a smile on someone's face, and for the children, blessings of a little Christmas joy,” they said. “In the hectic and overwhelming Christmas season, it is important to remember those who are forgotten or not as blessed as others. Small but meaningful charitable actions can enlighten one's Christmas: ‘For whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do unto me,’ says the Lord Jesus.”

Chief Development Officer for Mi Escuelita Mackenzie Martin Cook remarked on the significance of Gifting Day on Nov. 20: “Mi Escuelita Preschool was thrilled to benefit from a ‘Bike Build’ made possible by the University of Dallas and Pro Players Foundation. Because of their generosity, we were able to ensure that every child in our program had a holiday gift this year. Our families were overjoyed to be able to receive such a tremendous gift, and we are so grateful for the support of our community, especially the University of Dallas and Pro Players Foundation.” 

UD’s first Big Bike Build was a success, and Gifting Day brought many smiles to Dallas preschoolers and their families. Gupta hopes to bring the Big Bike Build back annually, with companies or other organizations who want to help these children and their families joining UD to cover the cost of the bike kits and the event as sponsors. 

If you have an interest in sponsoring the 2022 Big Bike Build in the fall, please contact Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Professor of Management Greg Bell at gbell@udallas.edu or 972-721-5167.

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