From as far away as Illinois and as close as Harrison County, West Virginia University families have been gathering together as part of the Mountaineer Parents Club Summer Send-Offs.

Every summer, Mountaineer Parents Club chapters all over the U.S. hold Summer Send-Off picnics for local parents and students. Representatives from the University are available at each event to answer questions, provide information and share tips for new students.

“The Summer Send-Off is a great way for students and parents to connect with others WVU students and parents in the area. Also, it’s another opportunity for freshman and their parents to ask those last minute questions,” said Ed McMahon, chair of the Southern New Jersey Parents Club. “It’s just another way to show the parents how much WVU cares about students and their parents. That is what the Mountaineer Parents Club is all about.”

Erin McMahon, Ed’s daughter and an incoming freshman at WVU said, “It was a lot of fun meeting other students from the area and getting to know them. I was able to meet another person who is in the band and will be living in my dorm. I am so glad I went to the Summer Send-Off. Hearing from the Mountaineer Mascot was fantastic.”

The events provide an opportunity for families to get to know other Mountaineers in the area, and they help to create a network of support at home. Valuable information on academics and transportation, among other things is often exchanged at the events. Prizes are also given away.

“Summer Send-Offs are a great way for families and students to connect in their communities. These events give students the chance to meet before coming to campus,” said Sabrina Cave, assistant vice president for Student Affairs Communications. “Parents are able to network and share ideas with other families in these casual picnic environments.”

Send-Offs have been taking place since July 11 and will continue until Aug. 13 throughout the area. There are 23 events throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and Virginia this year.

A schedule of events can be viewed at

Incoming freshman Nate Ward, who will study political science, is not a total stranger to WVU. Ward witnessed the WVU football team’s 70-33 rout of Clemson at this year’s Orange Bowl in Florida.

But his West Virginia roots run deeper. His parents, Terry and Cheryl, are both West Virginia natives. Terry is a WVU alum, having earned his degree in petroleum geology in the 1970s.

For Nate, coming to WVU was a logical decision.

“I always felt welcomed,” he said. “I visited other schools but I felt more welcome at WVU than anywhere else.”

The Wards began receiving emails and newsletters from the Pittsburgh chapter of the Mountaineer Parents Club several months ago.

“We’ve been involved with other parents since Nate was little, from grade school through high school,” Terry said. “We’re glad there’s a group for parents on the college level. Without the Parents Club, we wouldn’t have this outlet.”

Nate, too, is pleased that the Parents Club exists.

“It helps ease the transition,” he said. “Parents are involved all the way through high school, and in college, you think they drop off. But with this, they get to know other parents and create bonds to help the transition.”

The Mountaineer Parents Club, which was started in 1995, has more than 20,000 members with 15 state chairs and one international chair. The organization has more than 70 local clubs that host guest speakers from WVU, visit area high schools and act as a support system for parents and students.

Club members receive benefits including “Parents Perks” discounts from Morgantown merchants; a newsletter published three times a year; Parent Electronic News bulletins with timely information about campus happenings; a toll-free helpline (1-800-WVU-0096); and an informative website.

The Parents Club coordinates many other services for parents and students, including bus service to students going home for holiday breaks and parking passes for families moving their students in and out of Morgantown.

WVU families may join the club by calling 304-293-2506 or registering online at

Follow the Parents Club on Facebook at



CONTACT: Sabrina Cave, Mountaineer Parents Club

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.