History of the Shirt Charity Fund

"The Shirt" is an iconic Notre Dame tradition that includes the design and sale of the football shirt worn by most students in the student section and many other Notre Dame football fans. The Shirt is more than a just a shirt: it is an idea that originated in 1990 to raise money for a student-led spring festival. The Shirt became an instant hit with students, fans, and alumni, and its success uniting the Notre Dame family has surpassed anyone's expectations. Following the success of the first Shirt in 1990, a second was made the same year. Called the “T-shirt for the Cause,” the second Shirt was created to support a doctoral student, Zhengde Wang, who had been seriously injured after being hit by a car in October 1989.  Sister Jean Lenz, then Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, along with Joe Cassidy, then Director of Student Activities, and the Hall Presidents’ Council, decided to use a second Shirt as a fundraiser to defray Wang’s medical expenses. The shirt they created was to be worn at the upcoming home football game against Miami on October 20, 1990.  All 17,000 navy blue shirts printed for the game sold out before kickoff. A second version of the “T-Shirt for the Cause” was printed after the game with the game’s score, and an additional 15,300 of these shirts were sold. The 32,300 total shirts generated over $100,000 for Wang. This was the beginning of the "Shirt Charity Fund."

Following the success of the “T-shirt for the Cause,” The Shirt Project continued to support students with extreme medical expenses.  In 1993, funds from the Project aided a student who had been paralyzed.  Additional proceeds were used to establish memorial scholarships in the names of Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, two members of the varsity swimming team who died in a bus accident the previous year. The charitable aspect of the “T-shirt for the Cause” campaign continues to this day, as half of the funds raised from sales of The Shirt are allocated to The Shirt Charity Fund, which supports Notre Dame students who suffer from extraordinary medical conditions that require payment beyond their means. For more information about "The Shirt," please visit theshirt.nd.edu.