Nontraditional fundraising brings fun to the Wisconsin Idea

by Phil Spiler

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has always taken pride in serving the city of Madison as the flagship university of the entire state.  Part of taking care of Madison has become entrenched in the Wisconsin Idea, a staple of the university’s values and mission statement.

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that UW-Madison should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom. It spans the university’s teaching, research, outreach and public service.

Throughout the school year, students, faculty and staff fundraise and volunteer for various organizations that will directly benefit the surrounding Madison community.  This can be a traditional method of helping the community by volunteering at a soup kitchen or picking up trash around the city.

However, what seems to generate the most buzz around campus on a consistent basis are the “non-traditional” fundraisers that benefit the people and organizations around Madison.

The World’s Largest Rice Krispies Treat

Students in the UW School of Engineering successfully attempted to create the world’s largest Rice Krispies treat and then sold pieces of the tasty treat to benefit the United Way of Dane County and Camp Kesem, which helps kids whose parents are fighting cancer.

It took 250 volunteers 40 hours to make the Rice Krispie treat.  UW students finished the record-breaking sweet treat at 1 a.m. on April 12, and it ended up weighing in at 10,327 pounds.

Engineering students worked day and night to construct the record-setting treat. Photo courtesy of Project Freshmen 15,000

The students had been aiming for a 15,000-pound dessert and manufacturers had donated 9,000 pounds of marshmallows, 5,500 pounds of Rice Krispies and 900 pounds of butter for the effort.

“A lot of people that we had came here and they worked for a really long time, and we had a lot of people that luckily came off the street to help and they decided to stick around for a while and they helped us get it done quicker,” UW sophomore Joseph Tarnowski said.

Danny Lerner, one of the organizers, said following the event he was pleased with the results after overcoming challenges posed by raw weather and warping in the wooden mold used to make the treat.

“We had an ambitious goal and we succeeded,” Lerner said, adding that extra cereal will be donated to food pantries or other organizations that will accept them.

Dip, Dive, Duck, Dodge and Dye?

The next out-of-the-box fundraising event that has taken place over the past month is the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board’s (WASB) “Dodge or Dye” dodgeball tournament, which took place on April 18.

The overall goal of the WASB is to connect students past, present and future. The dodgeball tournament is one of WASB’s major commitments to donating to the Madison community. Some other events included The W Project, Little Siblings’ Day, Founders’ Day and the Bare-It-All 5k.

Players were required to dip their dodgeballs in paint before throwing it to ensure everyone would get covered in paint. Photo courtesy of Philip Spiler

This was the second annual paint dodgeball tournament, which included 19 teams that participated in this year’s event. WASB had 14 teams compete last year, which met their goal of increasing participation.  The cost was $10 per person and the money will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Madison.

“WASB has a paint dodgeball tournament in the spring each year as well as a regular dodgeball tournament in the fall each year,” tournament organizer Kristin Grilli said. “We always try to choose charities that are local to Madison because we feel that they will be more applicable and compelling for students to donate to as well as a way for us to directly impact the community around us.”

Another event that WASB organized was the Dodge for a Cause tournament in the fall, where proceeds were donated to a charity called One Step at a Time Camp. This is a camp that is for children who have been affected by cancer. At the event, WASB had representatives from the camp talk and show a video in order to allow students to see exactly what their money was going towards.

“I think allowing students to see what their money was going to was extremely important because sometimes it just turns into a dodgeball tournament and although it is great that people are participating, they kind of lose sight of what it is for,” Grilli said.

The Crazy Legs Classic

The most recent event that supported the Madison community was the Crazylegs Classic, which took place on April 25.

The Crazylegs Classic is an annual eight-kilometer running race and two-mile walk held each spring. The course starts at the Wisconsin State Capitol and ends at Camp Randall Stadium. The first race was held in 1982 and was named in honor of Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. Proceeds from the race benefit UW-Madison’s athletics programs.

Tom Grantham, Ken Sparks and Rich Backus, who wanted to raise money to support Wisconsin athletics, hatched the idea for the race in late 1981. As admirers of Hirsch, who was then serving as UW-Madison’s athletic director, they asked his permission to name it the “Crazylegs Run” in his honor. Grantham continues to serve as general chairman on the Crazylegs Classic Executive Committee

Male Winner
First-time Crazylegs Classic runner Tyler Muller crosses the finish line in first place on the field at Camp Randall Stadium. Photo courtesy of News 3

The chilly weather did not stop many people from running the 34th annual Crazylegs run.  Surprisingly, the winners of the male and female division were first-time runners of the event.

“Everyone’s been telling me, they’ve said Tyler you’re a runner, you have to go to Crazylegs, you’re not a Wisconsinite if you don’t run Crazylegs at least once so I figured I had to do it,” said Tyler Mueller, who came in first.  “It was exciting and good to finish on the field, it’s very cool, never done anything like this before.”

Caitlin Comfort was the first woman to cross the finish line was also a first time Crazylegs runner.

“I just kind of wanted to stay in a good groove, I wanted to click off good mile splits, I was just trying to stay with those guys, they’re all really fast,” Comfort said.

Ultimately, the out-of-the-box fundraising brings together students and the community, which is the goal of the Wisconsin Idea as a whole.  The Wisconsin Idea has and continues to promote good relationships with UW and the surrounding community, providing students, staff and faculty the ability to contribute to a long-standing Wisconsin tradition.

By Chris Bumbaca, Phil Spiler and Andrew Tucker.

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