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3 on 3 tournament fundraiser planned for Bella's Butterfly Garden

What began as a class project has blossomed into a full-fledged fundraiser.

The "Making a Difference" 3-on-3 basketball tournament will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 6, at the Dakota Wesleyan University Christen Family Wellness/Recreation Center. This event, organized by DWU students, will have separate divisions for high school and those 18 years and older. The purpose is to raise awareness for drinking and driving with all proceeds going toward Bella's Butterfly Garden, which is proposed for Northridge Park.

The cost to participate is $30 per team if entries are postmarked by Friday; after that date, entries are $40 per team and due by April 3 to the Mitchell Recreation Center. Divisions will be open to the first eight paid entries and teams are guaranteed three games plus the tournament. The first place teams in each division will receive a T-shirt. Entry forms may be picked up at the Mitchell Recreation Center or emailed to participants by contacting or by calling 605-354-1101.

This service-learning project came about when DWU students were asked to put together a service project as an assignment for the COR 301B course with Dr. Derek Driedger. This class requires students to learn about event organization and develop civic values.

"I thought of Bella's Garden because of the tragic accident that occurred last year in our community," said Natalie Roth of Mitchell, one of the students in the class and project manager for the 3-on-3 tournament. Iszabella "Bella" Morgan was killed on March 24, 2012, when the vehicle she was in was struck by a drunk driver.

"Since the goal of our project is to educate and give back, I felt this would be a great way to bring awareness and educate others of the effects of drinking and driving while having fun and raising money for Bella's Butterfly Garden," Roth said.

Paige Mehling, of Wessington, joins Roth as project manager of the tournament, and they are working with classmates Jon Bane, Temple, Texas; Aaron Cox, Fremont, Neb.; Jon Dunlap, Mitchell; Josh Krause, Sioux Falls; Carlos Mora, Irving, Texas; Terysha Roth, Hurley; Tyler Sarringar, Pierre; and Cody Silveria, Moss Beach, Calif.; to make this tournament a success.

Mehling said she read an article about the butterfly garden and thought that a tournament might get a lot of interest and participation in Mitchell because of the different recreational leagues.

"So far, everything about this project has drawn me in because it is a great way to serve the Mitchell community while educating people about how drinking and driving can affect a person's life," Mehling said. "The reason I chose this project is because there is actually meaning to it. Yes, Natalie and I have put a lot of hours into this project outside of school, but the end result will have meaning in helping Bella's Butterfly Garden become a reality. I am a person who likes to make an impact in others' lives, and I felt this project was the perfect way to do that; not only to one person, but to the Mitchell community, hopefully."

Driedger said he believes service-learning intertwines the students' appreciation for hands-on learning with a teacher's initiative to instill responsibility, organization, critical thinking and adaptability.

"Service-learning allows students to interact with the local community and transition from learners to leaders," Driedger said. "Since the class focuses on community issues, we need more than classroom discussion and assignments. We need to move students out of the classroom so they can learn how networking, group projects, adaptation and reflection are key components of community service."

Donations to Bella's Butterfly Garden may be made to Making A Difference, 1200 W. University Ave., Box 485, Mitchell, S.D. 57301.