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Notre Dame Day raises money for campus organizations

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Students line up at the starting line to compete against football players in a 40 yard dash. The race was one of many events on Notre Dame Day.Photo Courtesy of Diego Arias

Students line up at the starting line to compete against football players in a 40 yard dash. The race was one of many events on Notre Dame Day.

Around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, after the conclusion of the fourth annual Notre Dame Day — a 29 hour and 26 minute live broadcast that was watched by three million people — Pablo Martinez, class of 2011 graduate and program director for Notre Dame Day, and his team left the LaFortune Student Center.

The event was a huge success, Martinez said. Notre Dame fans around the world contributed over 25,000 gifts, totaling $2,175,436 as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. This year, of the over 850 groups who participated, the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund — a non-profit organization that funds medical research projects that strive to find a cure for Niemann Pick Type-C Disease — received the most votes from donors.

Martinez attributed the organizations he was involved in during his time as a student at Notre Dame as part of the reason he is now involved in Notre Dame Day.

“When I was approached to lead Notre Dame Day, I said definitely because [of my experiences as an] undergrad,” he said.“ … I know that formed me and I am very grateful for that.”

According to Martinez, Notre Dame Day is often misconceived as simply a fundraising event, when it is much more. Donors are able to have a direct and substantial impact on Notre Dame students.

“We aren’t asking alumni to make substantially large donations, just to be a part of the day … the day is based a lot on equity, getting people to participate, and getting people to watch the broadcast,” he said.

Notre Dame day functions as a place for the campus community to showcase its accomplishments to the external Notre Dame community, Martinez said.

“That added funding, those added resources … really helps the students take their experiences while they’re here on campus to another level — that’s why we do it,” he said. “ … one of the things we did do a better job of is making sure the student body feels ownership and they can make this day what they would like to make it.”

One of the ways they did this was through the creation of a student advising committee and a Snapchat filter, Martinez said.

In addition, to encourage student participation on the day itself, the team added two of what turned out to be some of the most popular events of the broadcast — The Fighting Irish 40-Yard Dash and a performance by two actors from the Chicago cast of “Hamilton,” Ari Afsar and Joseph Morales.

Martinez said until Saturday night, due to a contractual restriction from performing Hamilton songs on a non-Hamilton stage, the two performers were just going to sing unaffiliated songs in Lafortune for the live broadcast. However, due to relentless requests from the Notre Dame Day the Hamilton executives allowed a few notes of “My Shot” to be as well as a rendition of “Dear Theodosia,” with Afsar playing the part of Aaron Burr.

“I think there was something about the performance of Hamilton in relation to the rest of the broadcast that was so cool, so different that almost made you feel like you changed channels and you weren’t streaming it from LaFortune, you were watching an episode of ‘The Voice’” Martinez said.

Martinez said getting more people than ever to watch and participate would not have been possible without his team, or their partnerships with the alumni association, student affairs, director of club sports and every college.

“I’m glad I got everyone at the table at the right time and to see themselves enjoy themselves at the table,” he said

The final monetary count, as well as the official order on the leaderboard, should be available in around a week, following audits, Martinez said.

“We just need to make sure that all the transactions were made appropriately, correctly, making sure the number of votes, everything, was fair,” he said.

Martinez attributed this year’s success to a wider audience reach via Facebook live, increased student participation and overall, the fact people want to be a part of something and help people accomplish goals.

Notre Dame Day is a process that takes 364 days, and preparation for Notre Dame Day 2018 has already begun, with Martinez looking forward to the possibility of a location change to the new Camps Crossroads project.

“Starting today, if we hear a good story that we want to include in Notre Dame Day 2018, we’ll log it,” Martinez said. “Come February and March we’ll start thinking about how we can produce it … the model of Notre Dame Day is that we tell ND stories, and no one can tell a story than the person who lived it first hand. So for me, it’s just a matter of making sure that people understand the value there is in Notre Dame Day and participating in it.”

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