March is easily one of the most magical times of the year for basketball fans. College basketball teams around the country lace up their shoes to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament. A player hits a crazy buzzer beater that gets his whole school rallying behind them while the losing team has gained a new adversary to hate for the rest of their existence. Fans make brackets after closely watching the season all long just to get their bracket busted by a small private school located smack dab in the middle of Nowhere, USA.
But, for one Husker fanatic, March is magical for a different reason.
For Meg Williams, it starts with her Twitter account, which now has 12,000 followers.
“I don’t think I used it for like the first 10 years that I had it. I posted maybe here and there,” she said. “But I think it was 2018 when I started to tweet about Husker stuff a lot.”
Her twitter account, @hotmesshusker, consists of posts supporting the Huskers, while also relating to the common struggle of being a Nebraska Cornhusker sports fan. But it was last year that Williams had an idea to use her Twitter account for something bigger than herself.
It was March 2021. Williams thought about all the March Madness bracket challenges and decided it was time she could make a difference.
“I have been in so many bracket challenges over the years and I just thought it would be a cool, different thing to do if we did one for charity,” Williams said.
Being a Huskers fan, Williams was well aware of the Team Jack Foundation. Team Jack is a childhood brain cancer funding group that came to notoriety after its namesake, Jack Hoffman, was inserted into the 2013 spring game and ran for a 69-yard touchdown that received widespread attention and international acclaim.
“I think their story’s super inspiring. I think a lot of people kind of relate to that family on some level and know who they are and want to support them.”
Word eventually got around quickly for “Meg’s GBR Bracket Challenge,” and in its first year Williams received about 150 entries and raised around $2,000. She brought it back for a second year.
“I reached out to a few people that I know around Twitter and said, ‘Hey, would you guys retweet this for me?'” Williams said. “But that’s not it. This year, it kind of took off and I did TV and radio and some podcasts.”
The Husker fan page owner had the luxury of appearing on 10/11 news during afternoon segments March 16.
Williams was not sure if she was going to reach her $4,000 goal, but the TV appearances helped her out. “I probably got about 300 more dollars, and quite a few more people joined from doing those interviews,” said Williams.
Here’s how it works: Entry to the bracket is $10. Prizes include gift cards to various local businesses such as Wilderness Ridge, Topgolf, Fanatics, and Slim Chickens. All of the money goes to the foundation.
Williams’ fundraising bracket is part of a quiet national trend to raise money through the popular March activity. Bloomberg operates “Brackets for a Cause,” giving business leaders a chance to make NCAA tournament picks and gives the proceeds to charity. Slowly across the country more nonprofits and communities utilize March Madness brackets in their efforts to support a cause and it should not be a shock to see more stories like Williams’ in the years to come.
When that bracket gets busted on the final buzzer or your championship pick loses in the first round, it’s not too bad when it all goes toward something bigger than yourself.
“It’s just been super rewarding to give back,” Williams said. “And everybody’s been super helpful. It’s not anything that anyone can’t do, right?”