April 24, 2006

Groups Sing, Dance, Flip For Big Red Relief Event

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Students enjoyed entertainment provided by 16 of Cornell’s performing groups at the second annual Big Red Relief concert Friday evening in Barton Hall. Proceeds from the event will be donated to UNICEF and Youth Action International to support children affected by the cruelty of war.

In addition to featuring a variety of performances by Cornell a capella groups, dance troupes, music bands and the gymnastics team, the concert began with a speech by U.N. peace activist Kimmie Weeks, as well as a slide show that illustrated the devastating consequences of war.

“We wanted to put on a show that’s truly Cornell,” said Uvinie Hettiaratchy ’06, president and co-founder of Big Red Relief. “But our mission is to give not only a good show but to raise awareness about a cause, which was achieved through Weeks’ speech and the power point presentation.”

Weeks, a Liberian native, was exposed to civil war as a child. His mission is to end poverty and suffering around the world and especially in Africa, according to the Big Red Relief website.

“We say never again, but we let people die from war. Never again. But we let genocide happen,” Weeks said. “People aren’t angry about it [the effects of war] … The media isn’t talking about it.”

Despite this apparent apathy, Weeks commended the members of the audience for their contribution to such an important cause, but urged people to do more.

“I challenge each person … to know that we, as young people, need to take up this cause of ending world poverty. … I invite you to join the global youth movement.”

Eugene Ngai ’06, vice president and co-founder of Big Red Relief, said, “In addition to being an entertaining show, the concert is also about encouraging people to get involved, and Weeks showed that there are plenty of ways to do this.”

Last year the concert raised $10,000 for victims of the South Asian tsunami. This year, Hettiaratchy believes that the concert raised even more money, as it had an even greater turnout with approximately 730 people in attendance, including performers and volunteers.

Hettiaratchy explained that the success of the event was two-fold. “This year’s concert was successful because we were able to get as many people as we did for a cause that wasn’t necessarily media-hyped,” he said. “Additionally, we were successful not only because we raised so much money for a great cause, but also because we did it without any [initial] support.”

Though an incredibly significant issue, this year’s cause still presented a great challenge in gaining support.

“It is easy to get people to want to support a cause like the tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, but it is difficult for an issue that is more intangible and long-term,” Ngai explained.

Hettiaratchy said that generating funding for this year’s concert was especially difficult since they did not have any initial financial support and they had to host the event in Barton Hall. Big Red Relief was able to achieve monetary support through grant writing, fundraising and obtaining the assistance of organizations unaffiliated with Cornell.

Hettiaratchy said that all of the fundraising was necessary because, “I wanted to make sure that every single penny that people donated would go to charity and not to a student organization.” According to Hettiaratchy, each $10 ticket can buy approximately two weeks of food and one vaccination for a child.

“I really enjoyed the variety of the different performances and Absolute Zero was definitely my favorite,” said Rif Rahman ’09.

About 40 student organizations were involved in the event, including the Cornell University Programming Board, the Cornell Concert Commission, the Interfraternity Council and the 2006 and 2007 Class Councils.

Archived article by Jamie Leonard
Sun Staff Writer