COLUMBIA — MU senior Chris Binkley sifted through the unanswered questions littering the front desk of Hudson Hall where he works as a residential advisor. After sending out news releases, ordering event shirts and asking local businesses for donations, he still needed to find a way to amplify music and transport 2,500 balloons across campus.
Binkley and a group of volunteers will set up wooden catapults on Tiger Plaza for the "2011 You Launch Like A Granny" event on April 20. Participants who pay $1 will be given a water balloon to launch over the bronze tiger at targets set up on Carnahan Quad.
On the morning of April 20, Binkley and a group of volunteers will set up the wooden catapults on Tiger Plaza for the “2011 You Launch Like A Granny” event he’s planning.
Targets include a replica of the historic columns, a cutout of a cartoon grandma, an oversized marijuana leaf cutout and a big target marked "Let's hit the marijuana out of Mizzou." If participants hit the targets, they win prizes ranging from free event shirts to Mizzou gear and gift certificates donated by sponsors.
All of the proceeds from the event will go toward supporting the local nonprofit, Granny's House. While he said the highest statistical number of students are on campus Wednesdays — and 230 people marked "attending" on the event's Facebook group in one day — Binkley was shooting for 3,000 people to participate, watch or walk by the fundraiser.
Binkley said he hopes this event will not only raise money, but also awareness for people to learn about the cause and attract more college-age volunteers. As a nonprofit, Binkley said Granny's House, located at 302 Trinity Place, receives kids from elementary to high school, who live in a government housing district.
"There's a lot of chaos and no real strong families (in that district)," Binkley said. "Granny's House provides an older figure where kids after school can get a warm meal, can feel like they're loved, and college students can help them with their homework."
While Binkley does not want to estimate a number in fear of jinxing the weather, he said that volunteers believe proceeds will range in the thousands of dollars.
Although he's a mass communications major, Binkley developed the idea for the fundraiser after enrolling in an event planning class to fulfill one more credit hour needed to graduate.
"I really enjoy the media side of advertising, getting people around a cause and getting them excited about a cause," Binkley said. "It's a labor of love, but it's definitely a labor. It's more work than I ever anticipated, but it's been a lot of fun."
Binkley was prepared to post about 40 signs in the grass around Carnahan Quadrangle and caution tape to warn students but isn't going to stop anybody from enjoying the free shower.
"If people want to walk from Strickland Hall to the business school and want to dodge a few balloons, I want to let them," Binkley said. "It'll be fun."
A group of about 30 volunteers will help clean up the rubber shrapnel afterward.
Binkley said the cost so far — mostly from the construction associated with building two catapults — has been less than $100. Two months ago, he was given $1,200 for logistical expenses by the Rollins Group Council and Residence Halls Association. Now, he is asking local businesses for charitable donations in exchange for company name exposure and tax exemption forms.
"It seems like a community thing that people really want to get behind," Binkley said.
MU Freshman Amy Becker, an accounting major, is a resident on Binkley's floor and has been a member of the event's executive board since the beginning stages. She said she thinks an afternoon of balloon launching is a great idea because it is targeted toward college students and participation is quick and easy.
"We're expecting the Granny's House kids to show up and I'm really excited to meet them," she said.
Along with kids from Granny's House, local media outlets, and fire and police departments, Binkley said he asked a handful of university notables to attend.
"The new coach, we're hoping he'll show up, because right now this would be a good time for him to meet Mizzou," Binkley said. "It's just a great way to collect the community together and have fun while raising support and awareness."
He said he wants to pay the hot dog vendor to give out free hot dogs to students who show up. And he's already gotten the contact numbers of the driver of the Monster Energy Drink truck and Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.
"So I want all these random things to just converge," Binkley said. "And to give it that feeling of 'I have to be there, or I'll miss out.'"