Notre Dame Football Fans Giving Back to the Community: The New ND Nation

Jim SheridanCorrespondent IJune 22, 2011

(photo courtesy of Lynne Gilbert)
(photo courtesy of Lynne Gilbert)

Strange things happen when Notre Dame fans from across the country put their heads together for a common cause. They surpass their goals then they set the standards higher.

The New ND Nation does just that and then some and is gaining momentum every day.

TNNDN actually started as a small group of Notre Dame fans that conversed on Twitter and has grown into a group of hundreds, including VIP members like Brady Quinn, Ian Williams, Notre Dame Head Women's Soccer coach Randy Waldrum and everyone's favorite Irish mom Alice Lynch.

A group of alumni, subway alum, former players, current students and everyone in between from diehard to casual fans that decided to make a difference.

According to Jason Cripe, one of the groups founders, "Originally we started as a group of fans talking about the thing we love, Notre Dame. Very quickly we decided to give back to the community, that started with a toy drive geared at Toys For Tots. We had so much success with the toy drive that giving back became the primary focus of the group."

As the group expanded so did their exposure in social media, first a Facebook Page followed by their own web page which lists members and publicizes charity events. They also have contests that give away autographed Irish gear.

TNNDN has representatives in 14 states right now and is always looking to increase. West Coast representative Lynne Gilbert talked about the evolution of the groups charity work.

"After the Toys for Tots campaign," Gilbert said, "We turned our focus to the Saint Baldricks Foundation, we held a charity dinner the weekend of the Blue&Gold game that raised over $2,000 for Saint Baldricks."

When pressed further on the core ideas of TNNDN, Gilbert stated, "We wanted to be known as a constructive group with positive ideas. Once we started spreading the word, people started jumping on board, the more the merrier."

The dinner for Saint Baldricks was held right off campus and was made even more special with an appearance by Darius Fleming, Kapron Lewis Moore, Ty Atkins and Ian Williams.

Williams held court with a group of youngsters who had a chance to laugh and joke with one of their idols. Williams, who was preparing for the NFL draft at the time, could have been anywhere that he wanted that Friday evening chose to make the lives of some young Irish fans a little better. 

The focus shifts now to conquer Chiari Malformation, a serious neurological disorder. While the group has reached their goal amount that doesn't mean that they will stop."We are ND, goals are meant to be passed," added Gilbert.

In August, TNNDN will start to raise money and awareness for the Kelly Cares Foundation, a foundation created by coach Kelly and his wife Paqui that that is structured on the pillars of women's health, education and community.

Not to be lost in all the charity work is an extreme love of Notre Dame athletics. Viewing the members of TNNDN's Twitter posts is like a roll call of who will be at which games this season and where they will meet.

A group of people from coast to coast, with a common desire to talk about Notre Dame football brought together through social media, only to take it one step further and let others reap the benefits as well.

But don't think that the members of TNNDN don't stand to gain also. These people are making life long friendships while changing others lives at the same time. Football, friends and fund raising, it really doesn't get much better than that. 

While some people's view of college football fans is painted faces and flaming garbage cans, TNNDN paints another face, one that combines a genuine love of all things Notre Dame with a sincere goal of giving back to the community, a goal that when set by these caring individuals, will surely be passed.


Jim Sheridan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes have been obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Jim can be reached at