Athletes team up for variety show to benefit charities

Several Illinois athletes have been putting in hours of extra practice, but not for their sports. They are preparing for Wednesday’s third annual Jock Jams, a variety show designed to raise money for charity.

Every Illinois varsity team will be involved in some way for the event, which will begin at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall. Women’s basketball and track, and men’s basketball and golf won’t perform because of conflicting practice schedules, though men’s basketball’s Brandon Paul is hosting the event. Junior Marissa Holden, of the soccer team, is one of the co-chairs for the event and said she’s lost count of the hours everyone has spent rehearsing. She could not promise that some of the athletes wouldn’t embarrass themselves on stage, though.

“You’ll see skits, singing, rapping, some dance moves, re-enactments of favorite YouTube clips and just about anything else you can think of,” Holden said.

The Illini have been raising money through ticket sales, silent auctions and raffles. Fans can win Illini and some Chicago Bears memorabilia and other prizes.

The money raised will benefit three charities: Champaign’s Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Special Olympics Illinois and Student-Athletes Leading Social Change, which is sending some student-athletes nationwide to build a school for underprivileged children in Kenya.

“Jock Jams is important because it gives the student-athletes a chance to give back to the community,” Holden said. “This is our selfless act. It’s a chance to (help) and contribute to the community.”

Last year, the athletes raised nearly $20,000. Holden said the goal this year is to at least raise that amount, but she hopes to surpass it.

“We’ve got a great reaction and people asking questions about it,” Holden said. “I definitely think exposure has increased over the last few years. It’s definitely growing.”