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Reese’s candy gives UNI wrestling program $5,000

Courtesy UNI Athletics Communications –

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – UNI wrestling fans’ support turned into more than just a sweet gesture for the Panther program.

UNI wrestling was presented with a $5,000 donation from the candy company Reese’s in the West Gym April 4, 2014, thanks to a social media contest. Reese’s is owned by The Hershey Co.

“We appreciate the support from Fareway and Hershey,” said coach Doug Schwab. “Hopefully they do it again next year and our fans respond again. We have had great support this year. This is another testament to that – how many fans are behind UNI wrestling. “

UNI beat out five other Midwest Division I wrestling programs for the grand prize. Reese’s allowed votes for the Division I schools in Fareway’s markets: Iowa, Iowa State, UNI, Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois. All were ranked in the top 20 this year.

“The UNI fan base really got behind the program,” said Jeff Stearns, vice president of sales and marketing for Fareway. “And you could tell by the excitement of what coach Schwab has done to the program up here and how well they’ve been doing the last few years and where he is taking the program. So it was really neat how the fan base of UNI really got behind them. And they actually won by a nice margin. They won big. It wasn’t a very tight race once UNI fans got behind it.”

Fareway grocery stores displayed Reese’s items in stores for the month of February and created signage directing consumers to Fareway’s Facebook page to vote for their favorite Division I wrestling program.

Reese’s has not put any stipulations on how UNI spends the donation but would prefer it benefits the wrestling program. UNI has not designated how the funds will be used.

“It was a word-of-mouth piece that UNI ran away with,” said Travis Smalley. “Having seen some of the giveaways and sponsorships that Reese’s does, the money is just a small token of appreciation for our consumers and the importance of our relationship with the NCAA.”

Reese’s is a sponsor of the NCAA for all college athletics. It started primarily with basketball three seasons ago but has expanded to other sports as well. While the relationship is directly with the NCAA, Reese’s does have programs with individual institutions.

This was the first time for the contest, and Smalley said Reese’s and The Hershey Co. will dream up how they can make it even bigger and better next year.

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