By KINSEY HISLE – COPY CHIEF
In the 1980s Regan was President, gasoline cost 97 cents a gallon, boom boxes blasted Michael Jackson, and Ferris Buller skipped school. During this time at Centre College, the men of Beta Theta Pi (Beta) and the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma (Kappa) co-hosted an annual Seesaw-A-Thon to raise money for their philanthropies.
Now around 20 years later, Beta and Kappa have brought back this event. Though the cultures of both the world and Centre has changed, the two organizations were eager to make this event from the past a part of their traditions once more as they continue to support their philanthropies.
Beta’s philanthropy is Wilderness Trace Child Development Center (WTCDC), which is located in Danville, KY. and provides educational and therapeutic opportunities from children with or without disabilities, ages five and under. Kappa’s philanthropy is the Center for Courageous Kids (CCK), a medical camping facility in Scottville, KY. for children with life threatening illness.
From Beta’s perspective as a growing chapter, the event was a way to link the past with a hopeful future.
“Honestly, it was the time for it,” junior and Beta Theta Pi president Gray Whitsett said. “We’ve gotten our charter back, we’ve moved in our house, we’ve been able to reestablish so much of what Beta was—it was time to make philanthropy a priority again, and have fun doing it.”
Kappa was approached by Beta to once again to co-host the event in their current efforts to support both WTCDC and CCK, and accepted enthusiastically.
“Everyone in the chapter was excited about hosting a new philanthropy event,” senior president of Kappa Kappa Gamma Jenna Trost said. “I think that everyone was excited to bring the event back to life.”
“The Betas approached me about [hosting the event]. I was on board especially since it is a part of our history. I thought it would be really fun to bring it back,” junior philanthropy chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma Emily Ackemann said. “We didn’t have much information on how they originally did it so we got to plan it our own way.”
Inspired by the efforts of their past brothers and sisters, the organizations accepted the challenge of recreating and modernizing the event. One of the large challenges of hosting such an event as a 24 hour Seesaw-A-Thon was building a seesaw. The men of Beta embraced this challenge, pulling support from chapter members and families.
“It’s a funny story actually,” Whitsett said. “Bryan Wright, Sam Morrow, Jared Thompson, and I drove to Jared’s house back in September. We had enlisted Jared’s stepfather to help us build it. After a full day of sawing, nailing, and drilling, it was complete. Once we got it back, however, some members expressed concerns about its stability. It just so happened that over Family Weekend, another member’s parents were visiting, and his stepfather decided he could make some improvements. What we didn’t realize is that he went home and built another seesaw, which was the one we ended up using. So now we have two seesaws, affectionately named Seesaw Alpha and Seesaw Beta.”
With the necessary seesaw built, the 24 hour Seesaw-a-Thon was planned to best benefit both philanthropies in a fun way. The event was held from Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. to Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Ewen room of the Campus Center. The seesaw had been originally planned to be placed outside on the lawn in front of the Campus Center, but rain forced it to be relocated. Brother’s Barbeque joined the event to sell dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. with 10 percent of the proceeds being given to Beta and Kappa to add to their philanthropy donations.
Prior to the event, both organizations wrote letters to alum, family, and friends asking for sponsorship and donations for WTCDC and CCK. Other donations came from the Centre community and a website created by the Betas to take donations.
The weekend before the event, the women of Kappa were further inspired to continue their fundraising efforts by a weekend volunteer trip to CCK.
“That got the girls really excited,” Ackemann said. “They saw how the money would really impact kids.”
The Seesaw-A-Thon was a success for both Beta and Kappa as they were able to give substantial support to both WTCDC and CCK. With donations still coming in, the organizations have currently raised around $7,000. Kappa was able to achieve its goal of raising enough money to send 3 kids to camp for week long sessions.
In addition to successfully fundraising for WTCDC and CCK, 24 hours of seesawing was fun for all men and women who participated.
“My favorite part of the event was my actual shift on the see-saw,” Trost said. “Each Kappa had a 30 minute shift on the seesaw. It was great to get to know the Beta that I see-sawed with.”
“When two people have to seesaw for 30 minutes to an hour in the middle of the night, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be friends by the end of it,” junior philanthropy chair Bryan Wright said.
The last shift of the event was a memorable moment as some members of the organizations rejoined to celebrate their success.
“We were cramped into the Campus Center, teeter-tottering our way to victory, and we played ‘Closing Time’ during the last couple of minutes,” Wright said. “We finished at 6, and a rush of excitement ran through me because we had successfully followed through with the event, in spite of the hurdles. More importantly, I was excited to see so many great people rallying around a worthwhile cause.”
The Seesaw-A-Thon’s revival and success has motivated both organizations to continue to host the event in the future, improving it along the way in constant efforts to support their philanthropies.
“We absolutely want to do it again next year with Kappa. Something I feel strongly about is capitalizing on the publicity that a giant seesaw garners. I want Wilderness Trace and CCK to give us some pamphlets, advertisements, and contact information so we can spread that during the event. I don’t want it to be about Beta and Kappa, I want it to be about the philanthropies,” Whitsett said.
Other hopes for the Seesaw-A-Thon involve more campus involvement.
“We’ll likely do it earlier in the fall and hope for better weather. We’ll also strive to make it more accessible to the student body. This may mean having more food vendors and auxiliary activities next to the seesaw,” Wright said.
The Seesaw-A-Thon is able to merge the past and future together in efforts to raise awareness to support the important causes of WTCDC and CCK, and foster friendships in the Centre community.