By Hunter Dortenzo -- Maryland Media Relations Student Assistant
Senior tennis player Kristina Hovsepyan has been spreading Reddy2Fight, her aunt's non-profit children's foundation, across campus through the athletic department and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee since last year.
The Los Angeles-based foundation raises money to create and deliver gift baskets and care packages to children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Reddy2Fight, which is aptly named after Liam Reddy, was Hovsepyan's aunt's way of making a difference. Reddy's battle with cancer was Hovsepyan's aunt's motivation to make a difference.
“She was inspired by his fight and his story and became very close with their family,” Hovsepyan said of her aunt Tina. “Starting a children's foundation was something she always wanted to do, and this was just a sign to her that it was time and it gave her a purpose and inspiration for it.”
Reddy2Fight's mission is to “inspire, love, encourage and support children & their families during their fight against cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”
“Their main goal is to give care packages to children in hospitals during the holidays, where they can't leave the hospital and celebrate,” said Hovsepyan. “The foundation likes to do themed baskets, so around Valentine's Day we would try to do something related to that. The other ones might be Easter, the winter holidays and Halloween.”
Hovsepyan, who took an early interest in the foundation, realized she wanted to spread Reddy2Fight within the Maryland community. With that idea in mind, she went to her teammates in an attempt to find others who were interested in the foundation.
They loved the idea.
During last year's inaugural Fan Fest following the spring football game, all Maryland teams were required to support a charity of their choosing. Hovsepyan didn't have to think very long before she had an idea.
“The big idea came to me during the first annual Fan Fest last year following the spring football game,” said Hovsepyan. “I asked my teammates if we can support the Reddy2Fight Foundation. They said it was a great idea and it blossomed from there.”
After Fan Fest, the foundation gained traction in ways Hovsepyan couldn't imagine.
“The men's lacrosse team wanted to get involved and make gift baskets,” Hovsepyan said. “It was huge. There's nothing like having a number one team in the country representing a foundation that you're a part of.”
The ball then got rolling, and Maryland's SAAC wanted to get involved, which created a “domino effect,” according to Hovsepyan. Since collaborating with other sports teams and SAAC, Hovsepyan has made gift baskets and delivered them to local hospitals such as Johns Hopkins and Children's National.
Though she is graduating in the spring and will be leaving Maryland, Hovsepyan still hopes to gain the support of other teams.
“We just had Fan Fest again so I was able to get the word out there with some brochures and wristbands,” Hovsepyan explained. “There's also the Big Ten Championship coming up so there's going to be a chance to spread the word there.”
Spreading the word has been her main goal in supporting Reddy2Fight, but Hovsepyan is active in many other ways. When she is home in California, she contacts wholesalers to get toys for gift baskets and contacts hospitals the foundation wants to work with. She enjoys helping out in all possible aspects of the foundation.
“Whenever my aunt asks, I'm there for her,” Hovsepyan said. “If she needs ideas or suggestions for what toys to put in certain seasonal themed gift baskets, I fill in and help in any way I can.”
Hovsepyan's intense dedication to supporting Reddy2Fight is how she was able to grow the foundation as much as she has. She strives to get the athletic department to continue its support even after she graduates.
“From the start it was something that meant a lot to me,” Hovsepyan said. “I'm glad it has turned into something the entire Maryland community can support.”