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I-Domer-Rod participants race for Sullivan Fund

Kristen Durbin | Monday, February 14, 2011

While most people on campus lament the mountains of snow that permanently cover the ground during the winter, dozens of students chose to embrace it and compete in Friday’s I-Domer-Rod race on South Quad, with proceeds benefiting the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund.

The inaugural event, sponsored by Fisher, Pangborn, Lyons and Sorin Halls, was modeled after the famous Iditarod sled race but involved 12 teams of two to seven students pulling sleds with one student “musher” through the snow.

“I was quite surprised at how many people showed up and how excited people seemed to be about the event, especially because people are always a little wary of going to an event that’s not already well-known,” Lyons Hall co-president Meghan Eastman, one of the planners of the event, said.

The event involved a women’s bracket, which included teams from Pangborn, Badin, Farley, Lyons and Cavanaugh, and a men’s bracket, which had teams from Knott, Alumni and Fisher. Team Cool Runnings from Pangborn emerged as the women’s champions, and the Knott Men won the men’s bracket.

Each first place team received $75 to an Eddy Street Commons business of its choice, and the second place teams received $35.

The event was the brainchild of Fisher president Brian Schwartze, Pangborn president Betsy McGovern, Lyons co-presidents Eastman and Catherine Gillespie and Sorin president Colin King, who created the event during a brainstorming session at the Team ND student leadership retreat in August.

“All of us got to talking about doing sled races across South Quad like the Iditarod,” Eastman said. “Obviously, we couldn’t use dogs, so we settled for Domers.”

The two pairs of brother-sister dorms began planning the details of the event after winter break. After receiving funding from Hall President’s Council, the presidents realized their respective halls would not need to cover any additional costs of the event, McGovern said.

“There was no reason for us to make a profit from the event, so we thought we should give the proceeds from the event to a cause that means a lot to Notre Dame,” McGovern said.

After Schwartze became aware that Meg Swaback, a high school friend of Declan Sullivan, made 1,500 bracelets in memory of Sullivan, he contacted Swaback offering to help distribute the bracelets in exchange for donations at Notre Dame. Schwartze said the bracelets, engraved with “Celebrate Life — DDS 10.27.10,” gave him the idea of having the I-Domer-Rod support Sullivan’s memory as well.

Schwartze presented his idea to the group, who unanimously decided to give all proceeds to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund for its strong connection to both the Notre Dame and Fisher Hall communities, Eastman said.

“Brian [Schwartze], being a fellow Fisher resident and friend of Declan’s, asked how we would feel about donating to Declan’s memorial fund,” Eastman said. “We were all completely for it.”

Each sled team’s $10 entry fee and additional donations will go to the fund.

Although the event was a new experience for students, both Eastman and McGovern agreed that it was a definite success that attracted several last-minute sled teams, and they look forward to next year’s edition of the I-Domer-Rod.

“Our hope for next year is that more people participate because it ended up being a really fun event,” McGovern said. “We were thrilled that so many people came out and enjoyed it.”

Although her team did not win the women’s bracket, Cavanaugh senior Melissa Truitt enjoyed spending time with her friends.

“The falling snow definitely added to the atmosphere, and it’s good to see everyone having fun on a Friday in support of a good cause,” Truitt said.

Pangborn sophomore Kat Wilson also valued the friendly bonding the event facilitated.

“Despite our team’s loss, I can definitely see the value in this event in the quality time I’ve spent with friends and the hot chocolate that rivaled that of Starbucks,” Wilson said.

Brynne Miller, a sophomore member of Pangborn’s Team Cool Runnings, summed up her thoughts on her team’s win and the I-Domer-Rod as a whole.

“Cuba Gooding, Jr. would love this,” she said.