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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth AIDS charity set to win $5,000

Dartmouth group \
Dartmouth group \

"Lose the Shoes to Kick AIDS in Africa," an event planned by Dartmouth students to raise money for the Grassroot Soccer organization, is on track to win $5,000 from Dodge's GrabLife GiveLife online competition after a campus-wide mobilization effort. The competition allows college students to nominate and vote on philanthropic events or charities with the winner receiving a prize of $20,000.

Dartmouth's Lose the Shoes is currently in second place with just over 11,000 votes. The first three organizations to receive 20,000 votes will receive $20,000, $5,000 and $2,500 respectively from Dodge to benefit their charity. Only college students with .edu e-mail addresses are eligible to vote, and they may vote only once per day.

"Play for Patrick," a cause submitted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to benefit a teenager stricken with a stroke of the spinal cord, reached 20,000 votes Saturday and has been named the unofficial first place winner. The official winner will not be named until it has been verified that all voters were college students.

The Grassroot Soccer organization, founded in 2002 by Dr. Tommy Clark '92 DMS '02, uses the power of the world's most popular sport, soccer, to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. The program trains professional soccer players as health educators in schools to teach young adults and youth about how to live HIV-free. In the last five years, over 50,000 youth in eight African countries have graduated from the program. Grassroot Soccer hopes to educate one million youth by 2010, the year the World Cup is held in South Africa.

Lose the Shoes participated in the inaugural GrabLife GiveLife competition last year, receiving $1,000 for a fifth place finish. This year, however, Lose the Shoes launched a much larger campaign to encourage students to sign up and vote. The 40 Days for Grassroot Soccer Facebook group has over 1,500 confirmed guests and sends messages to remind students to vote each day.

Grassroot Soccer's College Development Director Zak Kaufman '08 said that these efforts have mobilized not only Dartmouth students, but also students from other universities.

"We've had the help of tons of campus groups and students," he said. "Not only students at Dartmouth are voting, but also students at 250 colleges around the country have voted for the Dartmouth event."

Lose the Shoes held the Halloween event "Click or Treat" in Collis Common Ground on Oct. 31, featuring performances by both Sheba and Ujima dance troupes. The event, attended by over 200 people, sought to not only register and motivate students to vote, but also to educate students about Grassroot Soccer and AIDS. Kaufman was pleased with the turnout.

"I think this event was the push that really put us into second place," he said.

Along with "Click or Treat," Lose the Shoes has been employing other methods to both raise awareness and educate students, said Ron Chavarria '11, part of the Lose the Shoes organizational team.

"One idea is going to Novack on Sundays and start snapping our fingers every five seconds to remind people that every five seconds, someone gets HIV," he said. "We attempted this last week but we didn't have enough people for it to be effective."

Chavarria said that though the Facebook group and mass blitzes allow the group to mobilize large numbers of voters, those involved with Lose the Shoes are concerned about getting people genuinely interested in their cause.

"We try to go up to people and have more of a personal time, talking to them face-to-face instead of only mass blitzing," he said.

Isaiah Berg '11, another Lose the Shoes organizer, said the group is not disheartened by their second-place finish.

"Five thousand dollars can do monumental things over there through the organization," he said. "We have nothing to be disappointed about. We will come up swinging again in the spring."

Kaufman agreed, noting that $5,000 would help put over 200 kids through the program, as the cost per graduate is approximately $25.

Along with the GrabLife GiveLife compeition, Lose the Shoes uses several other methods to raise money -- most importantly the Barefoot Soccer Tournament held in the fall and spring. Last year, the tournaments raised over $10,000 for Grassroot Soccer. This term's tournament will take place in coordination with the National World AIDS Day Summit to be held at Dartmouth in December.