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Ohio Wesleyan students belly flop for Haiti


Feb. 11, 2010 | 10:35 A.M. CST

Frankie Weschler, organizer of the “Belly Flop for Haitian Relief” held at Ohio Wesleyan University, demonstrates his “skill.” UMNS photos courtesy of Amy Allan.

How can a fundraising effort make a big splash and be a total flop at the same time?

When the “flopping” is the fundraiser.

Students at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, held a “Belly Flop for Haitian Relief” Feb. 6 at the school’s indoor pool, raising more than $1,000 for the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s Haiti Emergency fund.

Frankie Weschler, a junior theater major, used to participate in similar events at his high school in Chicago, raising money for local food banks. He had been trying to organize a similar event at the United Methodist-related school.

“It was going to be a Belly Flop for Hunger, but after the earthquake, it went from hunger to Haiti,” Weschler said.

Around 300 students and faculty paid a $2 admission to watch the 10 participants repeatedly hurl themselves into the air and painfully back to the water. Additional donations from individuals and area businesses brought the total over the $1,000 mark, doubling Weschler’s original goal.

Sophomore J.R. Osborne helps raise money for Haiti.

"Believe it or not, there is a proper technique to this," Weschler said. "You want your whole body and face to remain parallel to the water throughout the air. It doesn't hurt less to do it this way, but it does make for a bigger splash. And, besides, what we say is we're hurting a little so (Haitians) can hurt less."

Other than “a few red chests,” Weschler said, no one got seriously hurt.

Weschler credits his parents for inspiring him to take part in projects to help others. They were involved in Honduran relief efforts after Hurricane Mitch struck in 1998.

“Ever since then,” he said, “I’ve wondered when it would be my turn to help.”

*Butler is 18-34 content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. The article contained information from Connect2 OWU, the weekly e-magazine of Ohio Wesleyan University.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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