What do you get when you put two high school students in blazers for a day? They pretend they’re the first members of their school’s fictional hopscotch team. Naturally.
On October 10, 2010, Hopping 4 A Cure was created. The vision started when University of Florida senior David Nassau told his mom what he and his friend were up to that day and made it a reality. But instead of just a trivial hopscotch team, this one was for charity.
Nassau’s father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was younger, so it was only appropriate that his new organization was founded around this cause. “After our first Hopscotch Tournament, we thought it was going to be a ‘one and done’ event. We decided to do it again for our senior year as a final event, but it was so successful that we spread to a local middle school,” Nassau said about his expectations of the organization.
When it was time for college, Nassau was accepted into the University of Florida’s Innovation Academy, a program with a spring-summer academic calendar. Nassau had his entire fall semester off to do what he pleased. “I moved up to Gainesville and got super involved, both on and off campus—so much so that when spring 2013 came along, I felt confident enough to put on the first Hopping 4 A Cure event.” Since then the student organization has become a full 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, won the “Best New Student Organization of the Year” from UF’s Student Activities and Involvement and has even expanded to Florida State University.
Freshman finance major Ashley Godinez joined the organization after a personal meeting with Nassau where she learned about being a Gator and his organization. “I decided to join because of how unique the organization is. It sheds so much positivity on a very sad illness. I love that it’s not conventional.”
Typical Hopping 4 A Cure events are held on a blacktop or basketball court close to the university, but Nassau said that many events have been held indoors or in parking lots. “If we can draw with chalk or use tape, we can host an event in that area.” During events, “hopscotchers” compete in an obstacle course/relay race. But this isn’t your average fifth grade field day. There are 50 hopscotch grids that have 10 rows of five and each grid has a specific obstacle to complete. Nassau calls this the “EXTREME” Hopscotch Event. “We like to think of our events as a ‘Recess For All Ages.’ Anyone who comes out to a Hopping 4 A Cure event and donates has free roam of everything we have to offer and is able to pick and choose what they would like to participate in or sit back and watch.”
Nassau shared that most of the money raised is through “generous sponsorship.” Other funds come in through hopscotchers signing up for the event online or in person on the day of the tournament.
Travis Trout, a junior advertising major in the Innovation Academy, is a part of the Tournament team and helps gather these sponsors. “I’ve learned many things about organizing and gaining sponsorships, organizational structure and delegation systems and the formation of a positive organizational culture,” Trout said.
Nassau explained that Hopping 4 a Cure currently raises about $1,000 per event after expenses and is hoping to raise $5,000 after expenses at the next event. Where does all of this money go? Nassau described the three ways his organization gives back to the community: college scholarships, caregiver support and alternative medical research. “We have not started using funds for research as we believe we can make the most impact with the money we raise in the lives of individuals and families who have or are affected by MS, instead of pharmaceutical companies.”
This organization isn’t limited to hopscotch events, however. Nassau informed CM there will be a Basketball Tournament on Thursday, February 25 as a part of the Innovation Academy’s first ever iWeek. Godinez is currently helping organize the basketball tournament. “I love feeling like I am actually helping with the initiative,” she said. “I love knowing that I am a part of a truly genuine organization that can really make an impact on other’s lives.”
Currently, the UF chapter has about 20 members ranging from freshman to seniors studying subjects from engineering to life sciences. To officially join, you can choose to join one of four teams: Hopscotch Tournament, Hopping 4 A Cure Week, Recess Games or Outreach.
The focuses of the Hopscotch Tournament team are event rules, volunteer management and sponsorship. As a part of Hopping 4 A Cure Week, members set up benefit events, kickback nights and multiple fundraisers. The Recess Games team hosts smaller games at least once a month. And, lastly, if you join Outreach, the goal is to market the team both on and off campus. Recruiting and promotion is the target here. “It’s been an eye opener for me to see the value and excitement volunteer work can create,” Trout said.
Nassau describes his organization as the new 5k. “We can host events in less than half the time…charging roughly the same per person.” He hopes to grow Hopping 4 A Cure throughout Florida and eventually the nation. “We are actively looking for motivated individuals who want to have an awesome time playing recess games while giving back to their community and [to] a cause that desperately needs some more attention.”
If you’d like to learn more about MS and healthcare news, subscribe to Hopping 4 A Cure’s automatic e-newpapers, Hopscotch Herald. It presents stories from across the web and sends out a daily tweet reminder. And if you want to get more information about UF’s chapter or even starting our own chapter at your university to host a “baller event,” contact David Nassau at [email protected]