Communication junior Brenna Cockerill’s high school varsity soccer team was shaken when their coach, Mark Howell, was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. After surviving the life altering diagnosis that came with an eight-month life expectancy, Howell wanted to help those in the same position and so Fund a Life began. Founded in 2015, the non-profit organization raises money through events, grants and donations to provide assistance to individuals and their families experiencing life altering diagnoses.
After Cockerill’s high school graduation, she kept in contact with Howell to check in on his progress with his diagnosis. But the conversations always reverted back to the sport and Cockerill would ask for advice on her current soccer career.
“We had a relationship where we did not have to talk all the time to know we were close,” Cockerill said. “I always knew he would be there to support me and I wanted to make sure I was there to support him.”
In the summer 2017, Cockerill began showing her support for her coach off the field. For the last eight months, Cockerill has interned with Fund a Life in the communications department.
“I had a personal connection to Mark Howell and Fund a Life, and wanted to help out anyway I could,” Cockerill said. “I did communications and PR for the most part, but I really acted as a liaison for the organization. I did whatever needed to get done.”
Event Planning to Raise Awareness
Cockerill coordinated and hosted events for the duration of the summer. She put months of preparation into organizing a Fund a Life 5k in Brighton, MI. Cockerill found sponsors and networked with local retailers to host events after the event. Brighton Yoga and Running Lab sponsored a one-mile walk and yoga session for those who could not or did not want to participate in the run. The event ran smoothly and raised a net profit of $7,000 for future Fund a Life grants.
“My major in communication prepared me to be a more effective communicator in this role,” Cockerill stated. “I was able to put together a communication strategy and it made me more confident when talking to sponsors. This internship overall taught me to be more personal when talking to people, especially in a non-profit.”
Cockerill organized information booths at the Taste of Brighton, an outdoor festival showcasing the local businesses and events which takes place in the city every summer. The information booths increased local awareness, volunteer efforts and donations. Cockerill used her effective communication skills and assembled goodie bags through sponsorships for the event.
Apart from coordinating events, she designed donor packages including a company brochure and folder with the organization’s information. Cockerill worked with a local print and design company to facilitate the perfect package in order to encourage donations. She also updated the organization’s website.
Cockerill is seeking another communication internship within the sports industry. She plans to continue her work with Fund a Life by volunteering for events and helping the organization continue to change lives.
By Brooke Segal