Big Ten Network Launches Major Community Service Initiative

Give Big will use network's reach to honor university supporters' service, encourage others

Sep 02, 2010, 14:03 ET from Big Ten Network

CHICAGO, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to honor, encourage and support the thousands of Big Ten community members who give back, the Big Ten Network is launching Give Big, a major community service initiative.

Beginning Friday, the network will feature a top community-service effort of a Big Ten supporter during Big Ten Tailgate, which visits a different Big Ten campus each week during football season.  Some profiles will focus on the efforts of famous athletes such as Wisconsin's Devin Harris and Minnesota's Karl Mecklenburg, as well as remarkable projects undertaken by community leaders better known locally.

"Dedication, commitment and community are all important aspects of the Big Ten conference," said Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman. "Give Big recognizes that being a part of the Big Ten means giving back to the community in a big way."

While Give Big salutes these charitable efforts on the air, it will also look to engage the Big Ten Network's passionate and growing audience on a dedicated website ( and other social-media sites to funnel their enthusiasm and support toward these worthy causes.

Beyond sharing inspirational stories, Give Big will provide real tools and ideas to help others Give Big at  Through partnerships with organizations like Teach for America, Special Olympics, the REACH Foundation, Coaches vs. Cancer and others, the initiative will connect viewers, students and supporters with great organizations and outlets for service.

"We are really looking forward to sharing some of these remarkable stories with our viewers," Silverman said. "We're hopeful that the unmatched passion of Big Ten fans and the exposure for their programs will generate even more support for these great causes."

The first Give Big profile airs Friday during Big Ten Tailgate, which originates from the University of Iowa and features John Heineman. Heineman is a 25-year-old University of Iowa graduate who began volunteering at the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic during his sophomore year.  In addition to the countless hours he spent at the clinic, Heineman swam the English Channel to raise money for it, bringing in more than $19,000.  

For more information, go to

The first 12 honorees are listed below.




Air Date


John Heineman, Iowa graduate and volunteer

Raised $19,000 for the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic by swimming the English Channel.

Sept. 3


Devin Harris, Badgers' basketball standout

In 2007, founded 34 Ways to Assist, which focuses on the health and well-being of youth through basketball camps, clinics and education, as well as providing kids a safe place to play.

Sept. 10


CeCe Marizu, swimmer

Co-founded Students Leading Social Change, works with Hometown Heroes, in which Illini athletes work with local youth to spread anti-drug and gang messages.

Sept. 17


Charles Woodson, Brian Griese & Steve Hutchinson – UM players

The three coordinated efforts to raise funds for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital @ University of Michigan.

Sept. 24


Karl Mecklenburg, Minnesota and All-Pro NFL football player

Founded the REACH Foundation, which provides kids with educational and outdoor experiences intended to provide the opportunities and resources needed to succeed in school and in life.

Oct. 1

Penn State

Sue Paterno, philanthropist and wife of Head Coach Joe Paterno

A philanthropist and community leader, supporter of Special Olympics of Pennsylvania for more than 30 years and a board member since 1991.

Oct. 8

Michigan State

John Shinsky, football player and educator

Founded City of the Children, an orphanage that provides a safe and nurturing environment for abandoned and disadvantaged children.

Oct. 15

Ohio State

Kurt Coleman, OSU and Philadelphia Eagles football player

Works with Uplifting Athletes, a national non-profit that raises the profile of rare diseases through outreach, research, education and advocacy.

Oct. 22


Meaza Yalew, IU graduate

Started Lady Lioness Cycling, comprised of African-American women, and now working with City Year.

Oct. 29


Kyle Adams, football player

Involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which challenges athletes and coaches to make a positive impact in local communities by encouraging, equipping and empowering them to make a difference.

Nov. 5


Elissa Clapp, tennis player

Recruits top college graduates for Teach for America as part of the movement to end educational inequity.

Nov. 12

Big Ten Conference

Bruce Weber, Illinois Men's Basketball Coach

Involved in Coaches vs. Cancer, a national collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Nov. 19

About the Big Ten Network: A joint venture between the Big Ten Conference and Fox Cable Networks, the Big Ten Network is the first internationally distributed network dedicated to covering one of the premier collegiate conferences in the country. With approximately 350 live sporting events, and nearly all of them in HD, the network is the ultimate destination for Big Ten fans and alumni across the country, allowing them to see their favorite teams, regardless of where they live. The network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, showcasing a wide array of classic-to-current sports and televising more Olympic sporting events and women's sports than has ever been aired on any other network. Original programming highlights activities and accomplishments of some of the nation's finest universities. Each year, the network offers between 35 and 40 football games, 105 regular season men's basketball games; 55 women's basketball games; dozens of Big Ten Championship events; studio shows; coaches' shows; and classic games. The network is available to more than 75 million homes across the United States and Canada, and currently has agreements with more than 300 affiliates, including AT&T U-Verse, Atlantic Broadband, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox (Cleveland, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Omaha), DirecTV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Rogers Cable (Canada), Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct (Canada), Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS. For updated information on the Big Ten Network, go to

SOURCE Big Ten Network

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