Michael ’63 and Joanne Wood are long-time supporters of the Cal track & field program. Their generous philanthropy provides scholarship support to four track & field student-athletes each year. This year’s honorees of the Michael Wood Track Scholarship Fund are Josh Johnson, Sanjay Kettels, Amari Turner and Annie Boos. Michael and Joanne share with us why they support the program and are passionate about helping student-athletes with scholarship support.
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Track & field is very close to my heart [Michael]. I ran track at Cal and also in high school, and that’s what got me running track at Cal. Coach Robyne Johnson decides how to use the scholarship money. It gives her flexibility. It’s a great feeling that we are doing this for the track family and for Cal sports in general. When we get back letters from our scholarship athletes thanking us for providing these scholarships, it’s worth everything to us.
We feel like we have almost adopted them. That is what we have told other alumni. If you can send money, that’s great. But, it’s the personal contact when you meet these student-athletes. They are so bright and interesting, and some of them are training for the Olympics right now. It is such a kick. We feel like our scholarship athletes are like semi-family or semi-adopted. It’s really nice while they are in school that we get to meet them and see them.
There is a half miler I have met a couple of times in person. He always drops me [Michael] a line. He has graduated now, and he is in graduate school in Arizona. I got a letter from him last week. That’s the kind of stuff that is great. He told me he would never have been able to go to Cal and have the career that he has if it wasn’t for the scholarship. That makes you feel really glad you are doing it.
Cal is a great school, and you get great young people to go there. One thing that stands out is that they love being a part of Cal. They are smart, and they appreciate what has happened. They don’t take it for granted. Some of them have kept in touch, which makes what we are doing very worthwhile. They are very focused about their studies and school.
I [Joanne] was at a track meet, and this woman came up to me and started hugging me. She said, ‘My son has your scholarship, and if he didn’t have it, he couldn’t go to Cal. My husband and I are so excited to meet you because if you hadn’t done what you had done, my son wouldn’t be at Cal. And, we think he is in the best place to go to college.’