After the fourth inning between the Bandits and Cedar Rapids Kernels, River Bandits owner Dave Heller announced Carly Donahue (University of Iowa) , Ryan Lorber (Black Hawk College), and Dylan Sortillo (Augustana College) as the recipients of the Bandit Scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Bandit scholar fund has been an institution with the Quad Cities River Bandits since 2009, founded by team owners Heller and Bob Herrfeldt. The program pays the entire first year of college tuition for three Quad Cities area students. The winners also receive a summer internship with the Quad Cities River Bandits following the academic year. The scholarship recipients were selected by committees consisting of community leaders, River Bandits’ ownership and staff, and volunteers from the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and Augustana College.
“Giving out these scholarships is the single most enjoyable thing I do as owner of the River Bandits. I am so pleased, on behalf of the team, the universities and the Communtiy Foundation of the Great River Bend, to present these scholarships to three very deserving students,” said Heller. “Carly, Dylan and Ryan all have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence, as well as a genuine and deep-seated commitment to improving the Quad Cities, and I know they each go on to do great things with their life. We are delighted to be able to help them achieve the next step.”
A Bettendorf, Iowa native, Donahue will begin her freshman year at the University of Iowa this fall. A graduate from Pleasant Valley High School, Donahue was a three-sport athlete for the Spartans. She was a member of the girls basketball team that made a run to the sectional finals in the 2015-2016 season while also participating in both cross country and track. Donahue also contributed to the Pleasant Valley yearbook and newspaper and was also a member of the National Honors Society. As a way of sharing her athletic talents with the community, Donahue volunteers as a youth basketball and soccer coach.
“Being awarded with this scholarship is an honor because it shows that the River Bandits and the committee believe in me and are willing to make an investment in my education,” said Donahue. “I will continue to give back to this community as it continuously proves to give me so much.”
Lorber is a graduate of Central High School and a Davenport, Iowa native. He was a five-year member of the baseball team and four-year football player. He volunteers with the Salvation Army during Christmas season as a bell ringer and also volunteers as a Little Devils football coach, helping teach fundamentals and the love of football to Quad Cities Area youth.
“I’m honored to be a bandit scholar recipient,” said Lorber. “I’m very proud to represent my school, my family and the River Bandits. It means a lot to me to show others that hard work, pays off.”
Sortillo, a life-long Quad Cities native, will return to Augustana College on the scholarship this fall. Sortillo is a member of the top-ranked Augustana Vikings basketball team, which has compiled a 50-7 record in Sortillo’s first two seasons and has twice been to the Division 3 National Championship round. He serves on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which helps organize and create events that not only help the school, but the Quad Cities in general. Last year, after a storm devastated Rock Island, Illinois, the Augustana SAAC orchestrated a cleanup program to help relieve some of the burden on the city and its residents.
“I was shocked when I learned about being accepted. I didn’t know what to say but to continuously thank some of the people of the organization like Mr. Heller and Mr. Chesser for giving me this amazing opportunity,” said Sortillo. “I realized that it won’t be easy and there is a lot of work to be put in. I can’t wait for those challenges that lie ahead and I ended the conversation by saying, ‘you won’t regret this.’ This is exactly what I think I want to do in the future and being able to start for a organization that has impacted me in so many ways in an area that I am dear to, makes it even more special.”
The scholarships are funded by fan donations and fund-raising efforts by the River Bandits and the team’s ownership. Fundraising events include the annual Bandits Race to Home 5K and River Bandits golf outing, set for July 19 this season. Through the partnership with the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, donors can make online, tax-deductible donations to the Bandit Scholars Program by going to www.cfgrb.org. Fans can also visit the Bandit Scholars Program page on the team’s website, riverbandits.com, and follow a link to the Bandit Scholars page on the Foundation’s website.
The scholarships are open to current high school (or home-schooled) seniors who reside in any of the following counties: Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Whiteside Counties on the Illinois side, and Cedar, Louisa, Muscatine and Scott Counties on the Iowa side.