UW student-athlete recognized for fundraising efforts following Turkey earthquake

UW volleyball player Gulce Guctekin was given the 'Perseverance Award' at the 2023 Buckinghams...
UW volleyball player Gulce Guctekin was given the 'Perseverance Award' at the 2023 Buckinghams at the Overture Center.(WMTV)
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 9:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Hundreds of UW student-athletes from every sport on campus filled the Overture Center on Wednesday night for the Buckinghams, an annual award show recognizing student-athletes contributions outside of their sports.

It was a total shock when Badger volleyball player Gulce Guctekin heard her named called for an award, she said she wasn’t expecting it.

Guctekin is a freshman. She left her hometown of Istanbul, Turkey to play volleyball at Wisconsin.

When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, Guctekin said thankfully her loved ones were all ok, but she needed to do something to help.

“It was awful because you literally can’t do anything, you can just read articles,” Guctekin said. “I tried to talk with my family and they were sad.”

UW sophomore Yoel Nasi was in a similar situation.

Nasi is also from Istanbul and was looking to connect with other Turkish students at UW to begin fundraising.

“We didn’t really want to stand here and do nothing we wanted to look and find ways to help,” Nasi said.

Nasi, Guctekin and a few other students set up a table on State Street during the winter, and spent days raising donations for their home country.

“It feels good and empowering to be able to help people back home even if we aren’t there,” Nasi said.

Through their fundraising efforts, Nasi and Guctekin connected with the Madison Association for Turkish Students and helped the organization fill two UHaul trucks with clothes for survivors of the earthquake.

Together, Nasi, Guctekin and MATS raised roughly $40,000 to help those affected by the earthquake. The money going towards search and rescue, housing, medical costs and clothes.

“Having people that grew up with the same culture as you,” Nasi said. “It’s easier to explain to them the feelings and effects that a situation like this has.”

Their impact didn’t go unnoticed. Guctekin was recognized by her fellow student-athletes at the Buckinghams with the Perseverance Award for the work she did. Guctekin is one of three UW student-athletes from Turkey, and, while it’s difficult to be so far away from home, Guctekin knows her family is proud of her achievements both on and off the court.

“They’re always with me in this fight with me,” Guctekin said. “They know everything about me, what I’ve done, I think they’re proud of me.

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