One of the biggest rivalries in college football is harnessing its competitive nature to help fight one of the largest causes of death.
Bigger Than The Game, an Ohio State student initiative, is using the hype of the OSU-Michigan rivalry to raise money for the comprehensive cancer centers at both OSU and the University of Michigan.
“We wanted a cause that would be on campus so that students can really see the pride in supporting something,” said Ernest Levert, a third-year in biomedical engineering and director of campus engagement for the initiative.
Five students got together and came up with the idea after a Buckeye Leadership Fellows meeting. One group member worked at the cancer center at OSU, which lead to the decision.
“We were trying to figure out a way to really harness the rivalry of Ohio State and Michigan for a good cause,” Levert said.
After viewing a site called the eternal moonwalk, a tribute to Michael Jackson, the group came up with the idea to create an “everlasting wave,” said Eric Hornung, a third-year in finance and director of communications for the initiative.
Anyone from OSU or Michigan can upload a video of a person, or a group of people, doing “the wave,” which is often seeing at sporting events. The founders have also taken video footage of people willing to participate throughout the university.
Eric McQuillin, a third-year in accounting and finance, said he decided to upload a video because he felt the cause exceeded the amount of time it would take to participate.
“I’m in full support of their project and I think it’s got a lot of potential for growth,” McQuillin said. “I think it’s something that could grow every year … I feel they’re taking it in the right direction.”
The official site where people can upload their own videos currently lists OSU as having 100 videos and Michigan with 40. Levert said he believes there are a few hundred more for OSU that group members have on their own devices, but still need to be uploaded to the site.
The video clips will be combined once the competition is over on Nov. 26 and will essentially create one large video clip composed of the small clips taken of students, faculty, alumni and fans of either university who choose to participate.
“A big part is utilizing the Ohio State-Michigan game. That’s kind of the big motivator behind that,” Hornung said. “Competition … it breeds success.”
The money for research comes from either lump sum donations or donations from companies and corporations. The idea was that companies would choose to donate a certain amount of money per video uploaded, Hornung said.
The money raised will be divided evenly to both OSU and UM’s cancer centers. The school that has the most uploaded videos will not receive any prize or additional money for winning.
“It’s really for bragging rights,” Levert said. “The main idea is really to support cancer research.”
The group originally set a goal of $10,000 from September when it was first founded to Nov. 26, Hornung said.
“We definitely have raised a good amount of money but not $10,000,” Hornung said. “We want to raise a lot of awareness about this, that’s really the key thing. I think once you have the awareness the money will come.”
Since the group proposed the idea near the beginning of the quarter, they could not officially be considered a student organization. The group cannot get operating funds from the Ohio Union, have free fliers printed, or a lot of the other free services offered to student organizations, Hornung said.
Michigan does not have a formal group yet, although Hornung said he is working with a friend who attends and is interested in forming one in the future.
“Just like every starter company it’s going to start-up a little slower,” Hornung said. “Once you get that first cycle through it’s just going to explode.”