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Carson-Newman's fifth Hunger Games event raises nearly $55,000 for charity

Community Contributor Charles Key • Nov 22, 2015 at 12:30 PM

JEFFERSON CITY — The odds favored nonprofits as Carson-Newman’s latest Hunger Games fundraiser garnered $18,000 for 12 East Tennessee charities, surpassing its goal of $50,000 over the five installments of the event. The games took place Nov. 13-15 in three locations near campus.

Carson-Newman juniors Kathryn Spisso and Ryan Eberle were the Games first co-victors. Head Gamemaker Tommy Clapp, who also serves as the university’s director of first-year and conference services, said this was the most intricate successful installment by far.

"I'm blown away, actually," Clapp said. "When we first decided to do the games I thought it would be fun and exciting and we’d make a little money for charity, but I never imagined how big this would be."

Students, alumni, faculty and staff participating as "tributes" in the games needed to raise $13,600 to reach their goal. They surpassed it by more than $4,000. The first installment in spring of 2012 brought in $2,500.

Both Appalachian Outreach (represented by Spisso) and Habitat for Humanity (represented by Eberle) received nearly $4,000 each for their victors' efforts. Third-place tribute Conrad Byington earned nearly $2,000 for the First United Methodist Church of Jefferson City’s Haiti Ministry.

An anonymous donor offered $1,000 on the condition that Spisso and Eberle team up against Clapp, playing the role of president of the Capitol, to end the games.

"This is fundraising and that’s important, but ultimately this does so well because it’s giving people an opportunity to live out a fantasy," Clapp said. "People go to the movies and read books because they want that experience and they hope to be that person. This gives people the chance to do that for a good cause."

The nonprofits' share of the funds depends on how their tributes fare, but each nonprofit received at least five percent. That means each organization received at least $800 this year.

Other nonprofits benefiting include: The Mossy Creek Foundation for Downtown Restoration, The Rescue Ministries, SEEED, Renovatus, Carson-Newman’s SPOTS Ministry Program, Boys and Girls Club, The Journey Program, YoungLife and HYPE.

Donations poured in from around the world with support from the United States, parts of Europe and South Africa. Saturday alone drew more than 120 donations online, not counting cash gifts.

An enormous volunteer effort is required to make the Games work, from the beginning stages of planning, to the tributes’ and mentors’ fundraising efforts, to shooting and editing video for viewers, to safety efforts and keeping fires going throughout the night, a news release said.

Initially Clapp’s team planned for five installments of its Hunger Games fundraiser. As to whether it will continue, Clapp said fans will just have to wait and see.