Passion, dedication, and a commitment to serve others are just a few ways to define Annie Marggraff. Hers is a tireless pursuit to make the university, the city, and the region better, and she does this with boundless energy, exuberance, upbeat leadership, and a generous spirit.
As a member of the varsity cross country/track team, Annie created the Bear Cubs Running Team to help members of the varsity team combine their love of running with a desire to assist children on the autism spectrum. Bear Cubs increases self-confidence and running skills by providing a positive, supportive environment. Each youth runner is paired with a WashU athlete to ensure participation, consistency, trust, and connectivity. The program facilitates social interaction, often a serious deficit in children on the spectrum, and creates valuable connections and a welcoming community space for the parents of the children.
Annie’s thoughtful approach to the program results in a win-win for all participants. WashU students are better educated about autism and develop leadership skills; the families are more integrated with other local families, thereby reducing the isolation that so many experience; and the children spend every Sunday in a positive, supportive, caring, fun-filled, and healthy environment. The program has now reached over 50 families and involves over 70 varsity student athletes.
Annie gives her whole self to the success of the Bear Cubs. The positive response from the parents and children demonstrate her commitment. “Life-changing,” was how one parent described it, and another noted, “It takes a person with very big personality and big heart to do what she does for kids with special needs.”
As nominator Professor Leonard Green of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences noted: “Annie’s efforts are a way of life – she engages fully and deeply because she cares fully and deeply. She makes our institution better; she brings out the best in our students; she brings joy and confidence to children; she has improved the lives of many; and she has created a program that will continue to enrich the children and families for years to come.”