Students play pong to raise funds, awareness


Dozens of students gathered in Regents Hall Thursday, April 12 for the first annual Gator-Aid Pong Tournament hosted by the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) of Northern Kentucky University.

Enthusiasm filled the gym as music blared from the speakers and players sported blue Gator-Aid Pong T-shirts.

The SAAC put its own spin on a popular drinking game to raise awareness of the dangers behind drunk driving and alcohol abuse. The twist? Organizers filled cups with Gatorade instead of an alcoholic beverage to show that college students can be safe and have fun at the same time.

“We try to look for ways to get student athletes engaged in the community and vice versa,” said SAAC co-president Joel Belcher.
Pong participants paid a $10 registration fee, which goes directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

According to Belcher, the committee decided to go with the spelling, Gator-Aid to symbolize its goal of giving back to charities such as Make-A-Wish.

In this event, two-member teams alternated shots in an attempt to sink ping pong balls into plastic cups filled with Gatorade. The top three teams won prizes, including gift certificates to local restaurants, retail stores and NKU’s on-campus bookstore.
Senior Randy Wynelle played to “help support people against drunk driving and to support the SAAC members and what they’re doing,” he said.

Elizabeth Fernandes, SAAC member and representative of NKU’s women’s golf team, said 33 teams participated in the tournament, equaling out to 66 players total.

Participation exceeded the original estimate of 40 people.
According to Fernandes, NKU students Patrick Hyde and Zach Toerner won the tournament. Both winners received two $100 gift certificates to the on-campus bookstore.

With the help of all who participated, assistant athletic director and athletic coordinator Chrissy Soards said SAAC raised $365 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.