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Lyons to host Cirque du Lac

Ellyn Michalak | Friday, September 12, 2008

Lyons Hall will host the first ever Cirque du Lac, a carnival event benefiting Hannah & Friends, this afternoon from 12-4 p.m.

Hannah & Friends is a nonprofit organization that aids special needs children and their families. Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis and his wife Maura founded Hannah & Friends in 2003 in honor of their daughter Hannah. Born in 1995, Hannah was diagnosed with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome at the age of two.

The Cirque du Lac carnival will feature 20 different game and activity booths from other dorms and clubs on campus, carnival food, live music and inflatables. Every activity at the carnival will cost a certain number of tickets which will be available for $1, but all proceeds will go to the charity. There will also be a booth dedicated to providing information about Hannah & Friends and asking for donations.

“The games and food aren’t expensive, but it’s still not free,” Cirque du Lac coordinator Maria Petnuch said. “We’re hoping students realize that this for a great cause and they should come out and support it. We are also hoping that families, fans, staff and faculty come out and support it as well. We don’t have a particular financial goal in mind, but we hope to create a new Notre Dame tradition that can, in the coming years, become a dependable source of financial support and awareness for Hannah & Friends.”

Petnuch and her friend, junior Rikki Lynn London, came up with the idea for a campus carnival last year.

“Rikki and I came up with the idea in a late night conversation last spring and it just kind of grew from there,” Petnuch said. “It’s something that has not been done before. A carnival is something that fraternities and sororities seem to put on at a lot of other schools, so we thought, why not our halls? We hope it will attract attention and become a new tradition.”

Lyons Hall selected Hannah & Friends because they wanted to raise awareness about the foundation. The proceeds earned will benefit the construction of Hannah and Friends Farm, a residential community for adults with special needs. The program will be funded by Indiana Medicaid.

“[Hannah & Friends is] something that is very close to the heart of Notre Dame. Started by our football coach, it’s a charity and even if people don’t know a lot about it they’ve at least heard of it before,” Petnuch said. “Because we knew we wanted to have a carnival, supporting an organization that helps kids was an easy choice to make.”

The carnival will take place tomorrow from 12-4 p.m. on South Quad.

“We hope that everyone who participates in the carnival gets a real feel for what it means to be part of the Notre Dame family” Petnuch said.