A routine hike up “A” Mountain on one September 2018 day was a catalyst for a new organization. Through a little sweat and tears, the beginnings of the Twelve Plus One Heart Foundation were created during the 40-year reunion for former New Mexico State University student-athletes.
During the trek, Cyrus Cormier, a 1980 graduate, asked the group to write three things that had most impacted their lives in the last four decades. And the group discussed the trials and tribulations they had faced, including losing a spouse or child, overcoming addiction and helping a child following a suicide attempt.
“From that day on, we said we aren’t going to wait another 10 years, 20 years, every day we have to be in touch with each other,” said Cormier, president of Twelve Plus One. “So we formed this organization and send out daily messages to keep in touch with each other.”
Between 4 and 5 a.m. every morning, cell phones receive a text message, and group members start their day with a breakfast for the soul note.
“Everybody will comment about it, whether it’s scripture, a writing, something personal, everyone will tag in and give their two cents,” Cormier said. “It’s a way for us to stay connected.”
Currently, Twelve Plus One has 23 members, NMSU alumni who were former men’s basketball players, coaches’ wives and daughters, along with honorary members who have passed away.
Twelve Plus One’s philosophy is “the dreams that we dreamed as college athletes pale in comparison to the dream we have today of serving others, particularly those seeking higher education. Four decades have passed since a community embraced us with loving acts of kindness and generosity. A university offered us a glimpse of possibilities and exposed us to a worldview that most of us could never have imagined. Blessed with amazing professors, counselors, coaches and staff, teammates and boosters, it was not difficult to realize that we were somewhere very special.”
At NMSU’s Giving Tuesday 2019, they established the Twelve Plus One Heart Foundation Endowed Scholarship. Cormier credits Greg Webb, a 1981 graduate, with the idea to create scholarships. As of March 2020, the foundation is 100 percent funded.
Twelve Plus One is “dedicated to creating steppingstones for future generations to excel in their future endeavors. Their core values are: Honor, Excellence, Achievement, Resilience and Tenacity.”
Twelve Plus One decided to pay it forward by creating opportunities for deserving students in need of financial assistance. The scholarship will be awarded to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who has demonstrated community service and possess leadership attributes.
Even with daily text messages, Twelve Plus One members have committed to an annual reunion to maintain their bonds. In 2020, the group returned to Las Cruces for a pair of men’s basketball games.
Cormier said he hopes other NMSU sports can create their own Twelve Plus One chapters.
“Maybe we won’t even stop there,” Cormier said. “Maybe we will reach out to other schools. I know a bunch of ex-athletes from different colleges and maybe we will have different chapters at different colleges around the country. How cool would that be?”
To learn more about Twelve Plus One visit https://www.the-heart-foundation.com. To donate to the scholarship visit https://support.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-1316.