March 30, 2017
Rendering of the new UAB College of Arts and Sciences building March 30, 2017

As Administrative Associate to Head Football Coach Bill Clark, Shannon Ritch spends her days at the epicenter of UAB’s football operations. The atmosphere around the football building is one of nonstop preparation – from construction on the new Football Operations Center and Legacy Pavilion to team practices – in anticipation of #TheReturn on September 2.

Amidst the sound of all that activity, construction drills and football drills alike, Ms. Ritch has been anticipating a sound of another kind.

“It’s that Friday night sound -- that Saturday sound,” she said. “The Marching Blazers are such an important extension of the football team and a crucial piece of the game day experience. Without them, there is no spirit!”

So Ms. Ritch made it a point each day to check the progress of New Uniforms for The Return, the Marching Blazers’ crowdfunding effort to purchase new uniforms.

“When I looked Tuesday, I realized it was so close that I could make a personal gift to take it right to the goal,” she said. “I wanted to see that $70,000 so badly!”

Thanks to Ms. Ritch’s gift, plus contributions from 167 additional donors, the UAB Marching Blazers reached their fundraising goal on Tuesday with three days left in the campaign.

“The new uniforms are amazing,” Ms. Ritch said. “They are going to look extraordinary on the field.”

UAB has played a major role in Ms. Ritch’s life: She started working at UAB in 2001, graduated with a degree in Health Sciences in 2008, and started working for football operations in 2012. Her daughter Chesney is a first-year nursing student at UAB. Ms. Ritch also has two sons, Corry and Rik.

For 16 years, Ms. Ritch has watched firsthand the progress and growth across campus – “It makes you proud to wear green and gold” – and she believes crowdfunding projects demonstrate the power of all gifts, big and small, to contribute to the growth.

“I love The Campaign for UAB’s slogan, ‘Give Something, Change Everything,’” she said, “because every gift counts. If everyone gets involved, things like this happen. And now the Marching Blazers can go out there and wear those uniforms with such pride.”

Ms. Ritch is equally excited about receiving one of the current band uniform jackets – one of the perks provided for donating to the crowdfunding campaign. She plans to display that piece of UAB history when she moves into her new open office area in the Football Operations Center and Legacy Pavilion in July.

“I’m so glad this is going to happen for the band,” she said. “I believe in them. I love them. I wish I could just hug every one of them and tell them that. I will be their biggest fan on game day just like I am for the football team.”

The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students is a blessing, Ms. Ritch added. “The biggest part of fundraising is knowing that there’s a heart and a student and a future attached to every dollar we give.”

To support the Marching Blazers New Uniform Fund: