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In a time of need...

by Matt Spiers '00

Rayna DuBoseWhen Virginia Tech women's basketball player Rayna DuBose became critically ill shortly after Easter, her situation attracted the concern of the entire campus community. DuBose, a freshman from Columbia, Md., had contracted a rare and debilitating form of bacterial meningitis that left her unconscious and fighting for her life.

Medics ordered DuBose airlifted to a Charlottesville medical facility where doctors hooked her up to a respirator and a dialysis machine when the infection threatened to shut her body down. DuBose's strength and resilience helped her fight off the disease and regain consciousness, but she still faced a daunting reality. Because of tissue damage to her limbs, doctors were forced to amputate both hands and both feet.

When they heard about DuBose's surgeries, women's basketball Coach Bonnie Henrickson and Senior Associate Athletics Director Sharon McCloskey decided to create a fund for DuBose's family to help relieve the financial burden. Under NCAA guidelines an institution can collect contributions for an individual provided the fund goes toward medical expenses not covered by insurance and the individual in question can never again participate in college sports. The fund is billed as expenses arise.

But Henrickson and McCloskey still needed a shelter for the fund that would satisfy state guidelines for what a university can and cannot do, so they turned to Russ Whitenack and the Monogram Club, the athletics department's organization for former athletes.

"When I was approached with the idea, I knew it was something that I wanted to do," says Whitenack, the club's director. "I took it to our board of directors, and once they were satisfied that this would be done in accordance with every NCAA rule, every IRS rule, and every state rule, they were 100 percent behind it."

As word spread about the fund, it caught the attention of one generous donor in the Hardwood Club, the fan organization devoted to women's basketball. This contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous, agreed to match up to $50,000 of Hardwood Club donations over the next year.

Those wishing to make contributions should be aware of the following:

  • The contributions are not tax-deductible.
  • The contributions will not count towards Hokie Club credit.
  • There is no minimum or maximum limit on the amount given.
  • Checks should be made out to Treasurer, Virginia Tech. In the memo or note section of the check, please write MC, Rayna DuBose.
  • Hardwood Club members should write MC or HC Rayna DuBose on the memo line of the check or attach a note indicating that they are Hardwood Club members so that the match can be applied.
  • Checks should be mailed to:
    Rayna DuBose Fund
    C/O Monogram Club
    353 Jamerson Athletics Center
    Blacksburg, VA 24061-0502

DuBose recently moved to a rehab facility where she will continue down the road to recovery. It will be a difficult path at times, but DuBose is a tough woman who is already looking ahead to the day when she can return to Blacksburg and finish her degree.

The Virginia Tech athletics department, the Monogram Club, the Hardwood Club, and the entire Tech community are looking ahead to that day as well.

Matt Spiers is assistant editor of the newspaper.