GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The North Dakota football team is set to host its annual Holiday Magic from Markus Christmas Party in a different venue this season. This will be the 11th consecutive year the program has put on the event to provide some holiday cheer for a handful of children in the pediatric department of Altru Clinic – Main and this time around, the players will welcome those families to their home – the Alerus Center.
An annual fundraising event established in 2001 by the UND football program in honor of a very special and loyal fan, Markus Bryant, Holiday Magic from Markus provides area children diagnosed with chronic, debilitation illnesses or cancer with Christmas gifts directly from their personal wish lists.
This year's event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. at the Alerus Center just inside of entrance No. 5. As part of the event moving to the Alerus Center, the families will be able to tour the facility and see the playing field and UND’s locker room up close.
Markus, who was an avid UND football fan, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13. During the 2011 season, he had the opportunity to meet the squad and his positive outlook and consistent cheer quickly made a positive impression.
Throughout the 2001 season, Markus became more than a fan as the players and coaches created a special place for him on the football team. He began attending practices and games and the magical season culminated with Markus helping raise the NCAA Division II Championship Trophy in Florence, Ala.
Chris Beatty, who was a member of the 2001 National Championship Team, thinks of Markus often and recalls the impact the young man had on his team and the ones that have followed.
“This event has truly become a part of the UND football tradition and the impact it has had on myself, my teammates and even guys who have played over the last decade is powerful,” Beatty said. “We have helped more than 60 families since its inception and if we can give them one day or even one hour to not have to think about expenses or what is going on medically, then that is what this is all about.”
Beatty, who works locally in Grand Forks for Stryker Orthopedics, continues to help spearhead the efforts and carry on a movement that Markus gave his blessing to before he succumbed to the disease in 2002. Beatty and the current UND football players get help from Sue Hafner, a retired nurse practitioner in the pediatric department at Altru, in gathering the wish lists from the families of a selected number of pediatric patients, then do the shopping, wrapping and hand-deliver the gifts at the Christmas party each year.
“Being able to participate in this event has been a blast,” senior defensive end Ross Brenneman said. “I think we have had just as much fun buying and wrapping the presents as the kids will opening them. We’re looking forward to Saturday and putting some smiles on their faces.”
To donate to Holiday Magic from Markus please send your donation to UND Football, c/o Holiday Magic from Markus, Memorial Stadium, 2623 2nd Ave. N. Stop 9047, Grand Forks, ND 58202 or visit online at www.holidaymagicfrommarkus.com.
— Go UND —