Students hit homers to end hunger

BY MAX FREUND | APRIL 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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Ryan Marks hit a home run and fed 13 children with one swing of a bat.

The University of Iowa sophomore dug his feet into the sloppy sod of Hubbard Park Wednesday, participating in Students in Advertising's second home-run derby fundraiser. The proceeds from the event go to Kids Against Hunger, an organization that helps feed children worldwide.

"Oh, I love it; it's a lot of fun," Marks said, fresh from his seven-homer performance. "It gets people who would normally not come out and support. I think they will get them out here."

Last spring, the group attempted a similar home-run derby, but had meager results. The organizers equate this year's higher turnout and gains to advertising and a better location.

Marks and 25 other participants stepped up to the plate and donated at least $3 to take 15 swings. The event raised a total of $134, which equals 582 meals.

"Even a little bit of money goes a really long way," said Amy Lovejoy, the co-vice president of Fundraising for Students in Advertising. "One meal is 23 cents, so I thought that was a good way for even a small group like us to make a big impact."

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Wednesday's event marked the second athletics competition Students in Advertising has held this year. It also put on a punt, pass, and kick event last fall that raised $93 for Habitat for Humanity.

Lovejoy said the event helps students see the value of the leadership taught in student organizations.

"[The derby] is a way to help out the community and get our name out just so people can look to us as leaders, people who want a better future for their peers," she said.

Matt Oquist, the national director of development for Kids Against Hunger, said small donations from events like these — even of a few hundred dollars — can make a real difference for the organization.

"When you talk about the need that is out there, the need is so much, but every drop helps us feed kids," he said.

Oquist said, for $84, one child can receive one meal a day for a year. In the past year, Kids Against Hunger shipped 40 million meals.

And the simplicity of fundraisers such as the derby makes the job slightly less daunting.

"We like to keep our events fun and athletic," said Nils Thorson, the director of philanthropy for Students in Advertising. "[Something] easy for the students to do in a short amount of time, but something that might interest them."

One participant said the setup of the event made it easy to make time and donate.

"I think too many fundraisers are the same thing over and over," said UI sophomore Kathleen Kuhar. "But this was like home-run derby."

While the derby was a hit for those involved, Oquist said, he believes this sort of event shows young people are taking a larger stake in the world.

"Students are asking, 'What can we do to affect the world?' " he said. "And having a fundraiser like a home-run derby is a fun way to build awareness that children are starving and dying, and they can really make a difference."

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