Southeast celebrates 10 Annual Walk for Women
Southeast Missouri State's athletic department and Senior Associate Director of Athletics Cindy Gannon celebrated the 10th annual Walk for Women on Saturday, April 8.
With the sun shining and hundreds of balloons inflated, a crowd of 400 gathered in Houck Field House to partake in this year's walk.
"It's really incredible to see this event continue to grow, even into the10th year of existing," Gannon said. "That's when you really know you've got something special going."
The mission of the Walk for Women is to provide opportunities academically and athletically that will prepare future leaders in all segments of society. The event is also to support the efforts Southeast has made to commit to provide equitable opportunities for all student-athletes.
The event provides the opportunity for individuals and companies to partner together to enhance the athletics scholarship fund.
Since 2008, the Walk for Women has raised over a half-million dollars for athletic scholarships.
"The event has not only enhanced physical scholarship amounts for our student-athletes, but lifting the financial burden off of these students allows the experience of Southeast athletics to be deeper and richer," Gannon said.
The Walk for Women has been an idea in Gannon's mind far longer than 10 years, and has molded itself within the last decade to basically run itself as an event. For the first year, Gannon and her team's greatest effort was to make connections with distinct women within the community to get the idea off the ground and running.
"We've worked out all of the kinks by now, I hope," Gannon said. "The task force I've had the privilege to work with over the years has been extremely helpful and has made this thing actually happen."
Planning to retire from Southeast in December, Gannon will no longer have such a tight hold on the event. Gannon will have worked at Southeast for more than 30 years at the time of her retirement. She was a coach for 17 years and worked in administrative rolls for 13 years.
"Other than God actually picking me up and moving me when I made the transition from coaching to administration, I've had to just be quiet and listen, and that's where I feel like I am right now," Gannon said. "I'm not sure what it specifically is yet, I really just feel like there's one last thing that I'm supposed to have a lasting impact on."
In honor on Gannon's amount of dedication to the Walk over the past decade, the event will now be named the "Cindy Gannon Walk for Women."
"You don't really see the big picture when you work so intimately with the event every year," Gannon said. "But when you look back on the past 10 years, it's overwhelming."
At the conclusion of the Walk, Gannon received a standing ovation from the crowd for her devotion and commitment to the event.
"It was really great to see the support we've gotten for such an impactful event," Gannon said. "I saw a few of my closest friends in the crowd and had a few tears fall."
Changing the name of the event in honor of Gannon was a surprise to her.
In a video tribute presented at the Walk Director of Athletics Brady Barke said, "without Cindy's passion and drive for creating an event like this, and putting together an event that puts women's athletics on a platform and brings further recognition to them, it just couldn't have been done. I think it's very appropriate and fitting that with the 10th annual Walk for Women that we recognize Cindy for what she's done. Moving forward, the Walk for Women will be referred to as the 'Cindy Gannon Walk for Women.'"
Gannon has seen the generosity of the community toward the university, and specifically athletics during her time at Southeast.
"Year after year, we've had people call and want to get involved or sponsor the Walk, which tells you that we are just doing something right," Gannon said. "And that's not just us as administration making it happen, it's got so much to do with the character and quality of our student-athletes."