URI raises a glass to support women’s athletics

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Grapes and Grain event set for June 6


KINGSTON, R.I. – May 14, 2015 – University of Rhode Island community members and friends will gather on President David M. Dooley’s lawn Saturday, June 6 for the sixth annual “An Evening of Grapes and Grain” event. The fine wine, craft beer and food tasting benefits women’s athletics.


The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. and costs $100 per person. You must be 21 to attend.


Please register by May 29.


The event is the brainchild of URI First Lady Lynn Baker-Dooley, whose memories of unfair treatment as a female student-athlete inspired her to raise money for URI women’s athletics. She remembers watching the male athletes at her college enjoy steak dinners while she and her basketball teammates scraped together change to buy french fries.


She took the opportunity to make things better for female student-athletes today, and is proud of the success of Grapes and Grain, which has quickly become a tradition. “It’s exciting,” she said. “People look forward to it every year and the teams rely on it for additional financial support for special projects.”


One such project was sending the women’s crew team to England’s famed Henley Regatta for the first time in URI history in 2012. Projects like this make history, but smaller projects like replacing flooring in a women’s locker room make a difference in the daily lives of athletes.


“I think it puts women in the forefront and gives us a chance to showcase what women have done,” said this year’s honorary chair and URI Foundation board member Geraldine M. Baker.


Each year, coaches submit proposals to the Grapes and Grain Committee requesting funds for special projects like travel, special programming or much-needed repairs to equipment and facilities.


Over the past five years, Grapes and Grain has raised $174,000 for women’s athletics. Event chair and President Dooley’s Chief of Staff Michelle Curreri said that this year’s goal is to raise $75,000.


“As a benefit for women’s athletics, it’s been very successful,” she said. “It’s a proud moment because everyone comes together for the University’s benefit and women’s athletics.”


Women’s athletics team coaches and alumni attend the event, making it a fun reunion as well as a fundraiser.

Grapes and Grain features a silent auction stocked with travel packages, experiences and prizes. This year’s auction will offer overnights in Block Island, Providence and Stamford, Red Sox tickets, a shopping spree at Macy’s, fitness classes, wine tastings, jewelry, gift baskets and more.


“It’s by far our biggest fundraiser for women’s athletics programs,” said URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn.


He said coaches decide where the money goes based on their biggest sport-specific need at the time.


“That’s what makes Grapes and Grain so important and helpful. It’s been so successful over the years for not only generating much-needed revenue but also incredible fan awareness,” said Bjorn.


For further information, email joyalewis@uri.edu or call 401-874-2708.


Emma Clarke, an intern in the department of marketing and communications and a public relations major, wrote this release.