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Ads raise awareness for Marathon

Ashley Charnley | Friday, March 27, 2009

Neon signs appeared across the three campuses early Tuesday morning asking students, “Who’s Brenna?” Students who wanted to know the answer were directed to watch WNDU at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to learn the answer to that question.

The fliers were placed around the campuses by Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon committee as a way to raise awareness for the event and tell the story of Brenna, a young girl from the area who has spent time at Riley’s Children Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind.

Senior campus marketing chair for the committee Meg Varty said she got the idea by talking to Dance Marathon representatives who told her other colleges and universities had successfully pulled off a similar form of advertising.

“We have never had a publicity stunt before and we decided we wanted and needed to do something big,” Varty said. “When I heard the idea, I got excited because I knew it was definitely something we could pull off.”

Brenna Blossor is a four-year-old girl whose life was saved by the doctors at Riley’s Hospital, Varty said.

Three years ago, Brenna and her family attended the first Dance Marathon held on Saint Mary’s campus, and they wanted to use Brenna’s story, Varty said.

The members of the Dance Marathon committee who posted the fliers were the only ones who knew about the stunt, Varty said. They used fliers, posters, banners and sidewalk chalk spread throughout Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross campuses to spread curiosity over who Brenna was.

“We wanted to create buzz around the campuses and the only way to do this was to not let anyone find out what ‘Ask Brenna’ was,” she said.

During the day on Wednesday, the 16 girls who had posted the information about Brenna walked around the three campuses wearing neon green shirts that read “I’m Brenna. Ask me.”

“The point was to have people walk up to us and ask who is Brenna or ask what they were suppose to ask Brenna, so then we could explain Brenna’s story and hand them a packet to sign up for Dance Marathon,” Varty said.

Overall, Varty said she believes the event was successful in raising awareness about Dance Marathon and its mission.

“On Tuesday people all over were talking, and on Wednesday tons of people finally found out who Brenna was, either by asking the girls in the green or watching the news,” she said. “If they watched the news, they got to meet the Blossor family and the real Brenna as well.”

Varty said she is pleased with the success of the stunt.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” she said. “It took a lot of work, but in the end it was more than worth it.”

The Dance Marathon will be held April 3-4.

Members are asking that students register as soon as possible.

“Dance Marathon is in 11 days so get excited and turn in your packets as soon as possible,” committee member Rachel Chesley said.