Oct. 30, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn's upcoming intrasquad swim meet means much more than a scrimmage to Tigers head coach Brett Hawke. When November 8 rolls around and the Tigers dive into the pool at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center for Swim for MS, the cause of the meet is near to Hawke's heart.
Almost four years ago, Hawke's wife, Trudi, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis beginning a significant change in both their lives. Trudi's diagnosis happened after she began to lose sight in her left eye and after several doctor visits was eventually diagnosed with the disease.
"The biggest shift is that you stop feeling sorry for yourself, Hawke said. "I see my wife every day and she deals with many symptoms, mostly fatigue and she still does everything she needs to do in a day. To see her get through a day makes you get on with what you've got to do."
Multiple sclerosis affects the human body and in Trudi's case, the symptoms vary in severity. For the team, Trudi, a former Auburn soccer player, has played a vital role in the lives of the swimming family for the Tigers.
Hawke now see things differently and makes sure his tem of 18 to 22-year olds can see the perspective on how an altering illness can affect one's daily life. Hawke and his now see things in a different light.
"I've tried to arrange my schedule to where times I'm gone won't be as stressful. We've got a great support staff that is helpful with everything," Hawke said.
After Trudi's MS diagnosis, the Auburn team turned its annual intrasquad meet into a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. By participating in Swim for MS, the funds raised provided programs and services offered to those who have been diagnosed with the disease.
"I wanted to do something as a team, but I wanted to do something for my wife. She does so much for everybody and I wanted a day to dedicate to her," Hawke said. "I wanted her to feel good about the money raised and it was a thought of getting the team together to raise money. When I took this to Jay Jacobs, he said `go for it'. Everyone has tried to help out however they can."
Hawke and his coaching staff tasked the Tigers with a fundraising goal of $5,000 per team, but that was met within four days. Now, the blue team captained by Hawke and the orange team, captained by Trudi look to meet a goal of $20,000 for Swim for MS as the meet nears.
Going along with its annual intrasquad meet, the Tigers will be split up into two teams and each team will be not only be competing in the pool, but also to see who can raise the most money.
The Tigers maybe dividing their team for one night, but their efforts for Swim for MS will help many who live with MS day in and day out. Hawke believes that this cause gives his team something to compete for as well as the opportunity to help someone who has played a part in their time at Auburn.
"The kids have embraced the concept. In four days they raised over $5,000 and they love Trudi as much as I do. It's a great way to give back. She wants them to feel like they can come to her in times of need, just to talk or whatever. She doesn't want our family to be away from the team," Hawke said of his wife.
If you would like to donate, you can follow the links below to each team's page and then follow the prompts to make a donation. A donation of any amount can be made. For more information about Swim for MS, visit their website at MyMSAA.org.