Students fight AIDS, one kickball game at a time

By Shasta Webb

On Sat., Nov. 7, students made their way to the Leonard Center indoor track for an afternoon of kickball and charity. FaceAIDS in conjunction with Macalester’s chapter of Amnesty International, hosted a fundraiser kickball tournament to raise money and awareness about AIDS. At noon,10 teams assembled and the playing began. Several teams represented student organizations, such as the MPIRG Team and Lives of Commitment Team. For almost four hours, the teams duked it out, until finally the Kickin’ Chikens came out on top. The grand prize was a dinner at Chipotle but a cappella groups Sirens, Off Kilter, Scotch Tape and The Trads, offered personal serenades as prizes. Local businesses donated prizes as well, and Mac’s DJ club volunteered to provide tunes for the whole afternoon.

“It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon, playing kickball with my friends, all in the name of a good cause,” Joe Macula ’13 said.

That “good cause” was raising money for Twin Cities based charity Peace House Africa, which according to Amnesty International co-chair Caitlin Opperman ’12, “works to create sustainable futures for AIDS orphans in Tanzania, primarily by building schools and providing educational opportunities.”

The original idea for a charity kick ball event came from a student from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University who was working as intern for Peace House Africa. She recommended the idea for a kickball tournament, and Amnesty International immediately liked the idea. Amnesty International then contacted Maria Rothenberg ’12 from FaceAIDS about co-sponsoring the event because the focus Peace House Africa is similar to the missions of both organizations.

“There’s a real sense of efficacy in knowing that your kickball team’s donations alone provided a desk and chair for a child’s dorm room. That’s a concrete change in a child’s life. It means that he or she is better able to study and focus on school work. It’s really powerful to know that you are able to make that sort of change with relatively little sacrifice,” Rothenberg said.

This year was the first year Macalester has held a charity kickball tournament, but Macalester has a history of holding other sports tournaments in the name of awareness and fundraising. For the past two years, FaceAIDS has held a barefoot soccer tournament called “Lose The Shoes,” which raises money for a grassroots soccer program that combines HIV education with an opportunity to be a part of a community soccer team, explained Rothenberg.

Despite some hiccups in the planning process, “on Saturday it all came together really well, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it,” Rothenberg said.Opperman agreed, noting that “[The event] had fantastic volunteers, raised over $800 (via five dollar donations made by every player and several donations made by spectators) and everyone had lots of fun playing kickball!”

Both Opperman and Rothenberg are certain that Kick Out AIDS will be back in the fall. Until then, they encourage the student body to participate in the upcoming Lose The Shoes tournament.