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Mari-Rae Sopper Memorial Gymnastics Fund
The purpose of the memorial fund is to continue Mari-Rae’s mission to support women’s gymnastics at the university and club levels.

Progress: $91,626

Thank You!
View the list of donors.

Update: June 14, 2009

The Mari-Rae Sopper Gymnastics Memorial Fund contributed the following amounts to the named charities:

$4,000 to Norton YMCA for new bars.

$2,200 to Tampa YMCA in Brandon for gymnastics scholarship.

$500 South Chicago Art Center.

$5,000 to Voices for Kids for gymnastics scholarships for children in the Lee County (FL) Dependency Court System.

Marion Kminek

Update: February 4, 2008

The Mari-Rae Sopper Gymnastics Memorial Fund contributed the following amounts to the named charities:

$500 was given to the Fort Myers (FL) Green Wave Marching Band in 2006.

$1,072 was given to Voices for Kids of Lee County, FL in 2007 to pay for gymnastics lessons for children in Dependency Court.

Marion Kminek

Update: September 10, 2005

As of August 2005, the Mari-Rae Sopper Gymnastics Memorial Fund has contributed the following amounts to the named charities:

$26,800 to USAIGC to sponsor the annual College Bound Gymanstics Invitational in which High School Women Gymnasts compete in front of College Coaches.

$19,303 to National Collegiate Gymnastics Association to support Collegiate Women's Division III Gymnastics.

$20,700 to Palatine Gymnastics Parents Club to support gymnastics in the Palatine Park District, where Mari-Rae began her gymnastics career.

$1,000 to the South Chicago Arts Center.

$1,000 to Iowa State University Gymnastics.

$500 to the Pentagon Memorial Fund to support the creation of a 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

Marion Kminek

Update: May 31, 2002

The memorial fund has received a 501(c)(3) status which means that all donations are tax deductible and other tax exempt organizations can donate to the fund. The fund can only donate monies to non-profit organizations.

The Mari-Rae Sopper Memorial Fund is now a proud sponsor of the College Bound Invitational which will be held on an annual basis. The first ever meet was held in Oklahoma City May 17, 18 and 19, 2002. There were approximately 190 high school women juniors and seniors registered to compete. College coaches attended in order to scout these gymnasts for their teams. Mari-Rae’s sister Tammy and mother Marion were at the meet to present medals to the winners. All publicity will list the Mari-Rae Sopper Gymnastics Memorial Fund as a sponsor.

The University of California at Santa Barbara has turned down our offer of $75,000 and a continuation of fund raising events. (Their alumni had also pledged over $40,000 to save the gymnastics program) I really feel that it is the University's loss and hope that the team members find another university where they can continue their education and also gymnastics competition.

We are considering a substantial donation to a college or university who wishes to start a women’s gymnastics program provided they will guarantee to continue that program for at least 5 years.

It is my understanding that at the USA Gymnastics College Nationals in Massachusetts earlier this year, UCSB women's team was awarded the Mari-Rae Sopper award, which will be given to those who are most dedicated and passionate about the sport of gymnastics.

We have raised $75,000 and are continuing our efforts. We’ll fill you in when we know more.

Thanks for everything all of you have been doing to help the cause.

Marion Kminek

Background Information

On August 10, 2001, UC-Santa Barbara had announced that their women’s gymnastics program was being terminated. The university announced on August 14 that the program was reinstated in order to allow incoming student athletes and returning student athletes an opportunity to transfer and retain the ability to compete this year. It was made clear that the reprieve would be for one season only.

Mari-Rae accepted the position of head coach of the gymnastics program on August 31. Mari-Rae planned on saving UC-Santa Barbara’s program!

UC-Santa Barbara had agreed to reinstate the program if $4 million could be raised to provide an endowment by April 2002. The yearly income from this fund would have allowed UCSB to continue the program at the previous level, and allowed the program to grow through further fundraising over the next couple of years to provide for new equipment, 10 fully funded scholarships and miscellaneous costs.


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