Joe Schwartz

University of Texas basketball player Joe Schwartz poses with toys he bought during last year’s fundraising project.

Courtesy — Texas athletics photo

University of Texas guard Joe Schwartz has always looked forward to the Longhorns’ basketball team’s visits to Austin-area hospitals.

So last year as part of a class project, he raised $5,000 for Christmas gifts to present to children at the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin.

This year, Schwartz is doubling his fund raising goal to $10,000, and plans to give gifts to the children at the hospital next week. He had already raised $7,000 by Friday morning through the website youcaring.com/dollarsfordell.

“I like to see the joy on those kids’ faces,” Schwartz said. “They’re confined to a hospital room, and to brighten their day during the holiday season is great. I think it’s also a big relief for parents because they might not have time to buy gifts because they spend so much time in the hospital.”

Schwartz starred at Vanguard High School, earning the Tribune-Herald’s Super Centex boys basketball player of the year in 2014. He decided to walk on at Texas, the alma mater of his father and brother.

Though he’s played in just eight games in four seasons and has scored four points, he’s always been a great contributor during practice and a morale booster for his Longhorns’ teammates.

With his penchant for sacrifice and giving, it’s not a stretch for him to raise money for Christmas gifts for children.

“I don’t play nearly as much as a walk-on, but I can provide a different level of leadership,” Schwartz said. “That comes off the court too. I want to set a good example for other college athletes. Nowadays there’s so much negative press around college athletes, so I just want to give energy for my teammates, give advice for younger players in the program or give time to the hospital.”

After Schwartz reaches his fundraising goals, he and some of his teammates will go to a local store in Austin and load gifts into carts. He gets ideas of what the children want from a wish list from the hospital.

“We had seven shopping baskets full of gifts last year, so we should double that this year,” Schwartz said.

He’s seen children with all kinds of medical issues, including cancer-related illnesses, heart problems, and paralysis from injuries. It makes him feel grateful that he can give to them and bring some joy into their lives.

“You see those kids fighting every day of their lives,” Schwartz said. “I just like to spend time there because those kids are living a much tougher life than I can imagine. When you see what they’re battling, it makes you want to do something special for them.”

Schwartz earned his bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Texas in August and has begun graduate study in Sport Management this fall. His dream job is to work for an NBA team.

“The NBA is where I want to be and I can see myself doing marketing for a pro team or scouting and talent evaluation,” Schwartz said. “I definitely have to stay in sports. I can’t see myself waking up without sports in my life. I’ve been involved in sports so long that I never want to leave.”

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