Home News Aurora University athletes work to clean up area near campus

Aurora University athletes work to clean up area near campus

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Aurora University lacrosse player Ian Funk was busy Friday morning with his teammates and other athletes from the school who were willingly engaged in a community service project.

“I’ve done community service before but nothing along these lines. I’m happy to be out here,” Funk, 19, of Rochester, Minnesota, said as he and others worked to pick up debris along a road and by homes near the campus in Aurora.

Athletes representing many of the 24 Aurora University athletic teams came together Friday to participate in a clean-up effort near Spartan Athletic Park as part of the annual celebration of NCAA Division Three Week, an observance that has been around for at least 15 years.

Trash left from the winter along Edgelawn Drive between Prairie Street and Jericho Road was collected beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, with work scheduled to last anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes.

Aurora University Athletic Director Jim Hamad said the collection was originally scheduled for Monday, but had to be pushed back due to rainy conditions over the Easter weekend, which would have made gathering paper and other materials more challenging.

“As far as cleaning up the area of Edgelawn … we typically try to clean up that area after the snow melts. It’s typically a heavy traffic area on the West Side of Aurora,” Hamad said. “Students and staff drive by there and by the end of winter it’s kind of become an eyesore. This is a gateway into the stadium, and we’ve always made a conscientious effort to clean it up.”

Hamad said the clean-up effort has been a regular event for about five years and that each of the 24 university teams usually sends athletes to help out.

“There are always a lot of football team members and those from outdoor sports,” he said. “We get around 40 to 50 athletes each year. Our custodial staff provides collection materials and picks things up when we’re done. It’s kind of a cool thing because our campus safety folks, they’ll have a few cars there to direct traffic and communication people are out as well to make it kind of an event. The theme is to clean up the west side of AU and keep it from being a trash bin.”

Ty Pruett, 20, from Austin, Texas, was one of a number of Aurora University football players on hand and said while the job wasn’t glamorous, those volunteering were “out here with our buddies and having fun with each other.”

“They messaged us about a week ago and said ‘Hey, we got a little community service going on’ and so we came,” he said.

Members of various Aurora University athletic teams clean up along Edgelawn Drive between Prairie Street and Jericho Road in Aurora Friday morning. (David Sharos / For The Beacon-News)
Members of various Aurora University athletic teams clean up along Edgelawn Drive between Prairie Street and Jericho Road in Aurora Friday morning. (David Sharos / For The Beacon-News)

Anthony Czerwiec, 19, from Tinley Park, said he was a freshman at Aurora University and that this was his first year helping out with the clean-up effort.

“This is our community. Our school is right here and why shouldn’t we try and keep it nice and clean?” he said. “We’re living and going to school here and people should try and keep it a nice place. It wasn’t hard for the football team to get people here. We sent out a text message to like the whole team and we had a bunch of people sign up right away.”

Zachary Chavanne, 19, of Houston, Texas, also pitched in Friday and said he had done some community service picking up trash earlier this fall.

“I also did some work like this at home as well,” Chavanne said.

While the main benefit of the event is about beautifying the area, Hamad said it’s also “about the community who are such great supporters of our athletic park.”

“The stands are always filled with people who have no real connection to AU other than they live in the area,” he said. “I think there’s a half-mile of attention we give to this area and it’s the least we can do.”

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.



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