Photo illustration by Chris Poche / Design editor
On the two-year anniversary of Stefanie Spielman’s death, one group of students at Ohio State are attempting to make a difference by turning the ‘Shoe into a sea of pink.
Buckeye nation will welcome Penn State to Columbus on Saturday, and several students have created a movement called Pink Out Penn State. The goal is to honor Spielman, who passed away Nov. 19, 2009, from breast cancer.
Jim Ellia came up with the idea after doing something similar at his high school. Ellia called his friends from high school who also attend Ohio State and pitched the idea of pinking out Penn State in honor of Spielman.
“We really want to encourage people and show that it’s really easy to make an impact. This will show how simple it is for the average-Joe student to make an impact and make a difference,” said Ellia, a third-year in strategic communication.
The main goal of the event is to promote a positive message.
“This game has a negative connotation tied to it and we just want to hide that. There are so many good people at Penn State and Ohio State and we want to make that the focus of the game,” Ellia said.
Money gained from proceeds of T-shirt sales will be split between the Stefanie Spielman Fund and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Two bars downtown, Mozaik Lounge and The Big Bar & Grill, will also be donating money earned from drinks Friday night and Saturday night after the game.
“Stefanie Spielman had an endless amount of ambition to fight that disease and this is a prime example of how 20 or 30 volunteers can make a difference,” Ellia said.
Kevin Tucker helped coordinate the event and said there isn’t much time left to get students involved.
“We’ve sold out of a majority of our shirts, so right now our goal is to get the word out to students to wear pink to the game,” said Tucker, a third-year in finance.
Ellia said the results show how easy it can be for students to make an impact.
“This is a perfect example of how putting dedication into doing something more pays off, we have single-handedly proven that we can sell over a 1,000 shirts just by having ambition,” Ellia said.
The group expects to raise as much as $3,000 for each charity, they will know the final amount raised Sunday after the game.
Becca Thomas, Director of Communication for the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, said she is impressed with these efforts.
“We’re so impressed with what the Pink out Penn State volunteers have done to engage the Ohio State community in the fight against breast cancer,” Thomas said. “Their dedication to raising awareness and funds to find an end for this disease is truly commendable and we’re proud to work with them in this fight.”
Many reactions from students have been positive.
“I’ve had people come up to me almost in tears. They’re really happy we’re doing this, and really touched that Ohio State is reaching out,” Ellia said.
Hannah Baer, a second-year in dental hygiene, recently lost her grandfather to cancer and said this cause is important to her.
“Cancer is awful and I think this idea is a great way to show support for those who have lost loved ones,” Baer said. “Seeing the stadium in pink will get people asking questions and talking about this cause.”
While the OSU scandal was very different than the one at Penn State, some Buckeye fans can relate with the feeling of being in the public eye amidst allegations.
“My view toward that is this goes deeper than the game of football,” Ellia said. “This is an opportunity we have as students to just show who cares about a game, there’s stuff way deeper than the game itself and I think people are starting to see that more.”
Baer said this will acknowledge the off-field issues without drawing too much attention to it.
“I don’t think everyone wants to talk about the scandal. Both schools have had issues and want to get away from them, this is a really positive way to do that,” Baer said.
Ellia and others expressed desires for the university to be more supportive of this initiative.
“We tried multiple times to get meetings with the Department of Athletics, I understand they’re busy but I really wish someone would have picked this up,” Ellia said.
They began reaching out to the department in July via email, but the athletic department chose not to collaborate.
Ellia said he received an email from the athletic department, telling him that they would not be joining his effort.
Rather than being discouraged, the email motivated Ellia even more.
“That’s when I decided I’m not going to stop no matter how many T-shirts we sell and money we raise, we’re going to make an impact,” Ellia said. “For athletics to brush it off really kind of hurt me.”
Ellia plans on continuing the pink out tradition and would like to start a student organization called Do More to create year-round charity events and raise money for good causes.
“That’s the message of our foundation, do more. If you have something in your heart you want to help a charity with, do it,” Ellia said. “Our goal would be to do a major charity event every quarter.”
The group hopes to see fans buck tradition for a day and have a stadium of all pink Saturday afternoon.
“I ask anybody who wants to wear Scarlet and Gray to the stadium to look at someone who’s been affected by any cancer and tell them the football game is more important than doing something in honor of a wonderful woman and wonderful people,” Ellia said.
Tucker agreed that for Spielman to have done so much for breast cancer awareness honoring her would serve justice to her passing.
“The day of the game falls on the anniversary of the day Stefanie passed away so pinking out the stadium really means something, especially on that day,” Tucker said. “It’s a great way to honor her memory.”